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Gaza Conflict Enters 7th Day, Israel Downs Drone


It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.


And I'm Renee Montagne. Israel says, it shot down a drone this morning near one of it's coastal cities, about 20 miles north of Gaza. The armed wing of Hamas is claiming the drone, saying it's the first time it's sent an unmanned aircraft into Israel.

For more on the week-long conflict between Israel and militants in the Gaza Strip, we turn now to NPR's Emily Harris who is in Gaza City. Good morning.

EMILY HARRIS, BYLINE: Good morning Renee.

MONTAGNE: Now, it was the Israeli city of Ashdod near which this drone appeared. What is known about it? And, what is known about what it was doing there?

HARRIS: Well as you mentioned, al-Qassam, the militant wing of Hamas, is claiming responsibility. And they're saying on the local radio here that al-Qassam called, it an effort to record it's victory as it flew over Israel. Al-Qassam also promised that more drones are coming.

It's not clear if this drone was armed. The Israeli military hasn't specifically said that yet. They're looking into what can be determined from the debris. It's not the first time a drone has been spotted in Israeli airspace. Hezbollah, in the North, has sent drones into Israel before. And it's not the first time that Hamas has been associated with drones. Last fall, the Israeli military said it found a cell in the West Bank planning to put arms on drones and send them into Israel. But it is the first in this week-long fight. And Hamas claims, this is a new weapon, and is claiming more surprises are coming.

MONTAGNE: Well, tell us more about what's happening there on the ground.

HARRIS: Well, on the ground, Israeli military bombings continue overnight. They're continuing this morning. The government communication center was reportedly among other things that were targeted. Israel says it's killed a number of militants here. 172 people in Gaza have been killed this week. In addition to militants, there are children and elderly people who've been killed. Israel's looking into at least a couple of incidents that involved civilian deaths.

Not sure if you heard that, but there was one explosion just now.

According to Gazan health officials, over 1,200 people have been injured. Rocket fire's continuing into Israel. There have been some serious injuries and property damage. No deaths in Israel at this point.

MONTAGNE: And all of this is happening as there are increasing calls for a cease-fire from the international community. But, neither side seems to be interested in that in the moment.

HARRIS: Yeah. I mean, there's big questions of what it'll take for the international community to rally. There's different relationships between the countries involved. There's a new government in Egypt, which has close security relationships, actually, with Israel, but no interest in helping Hamas. So, that sort of negotiating might take some time. On the ground, the question of, you know, what does Israel want, what does Hamas want, is a very live one.

For example, could they go back to the cease-fire that they negotiated in 2012, which is the last time this kind of fighting flared up. Does Israel want Hamas totally out of power? Does it just want all the rockets gone? What will happen as far as ruling Gaza, governing Gaza, after this is over? Hamas formally stepped out of power after it came to an agreement with Fatah, the ruling party in the West Bank. But Fatah has no control here.

So, a lot of questions about not just the cease-fire, but the future of Gaza remain.

MONTAGNE: NPR's Emily Harris speaking to us from Gaza City. Thanks very much.

HARRIS: Thanks Renee. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

International Correspondent Emily Harris is based in Jerusalem as part of NPR's Mideast team. Her post covers news related to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. She began this role in March of 2013.
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