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Gaza Residents Start To Bury Dead After Violence Along Border


The protests and violence along the border between Gaza and Israel subsided today. There were still a few thousand Palestinians gathering, and Gaza officials say Israeli troops killed at least two people in the border area. But that was nothing like yesterday when Palestinians said Israeli fire killed around 60 people. What did ramp up today is the international criticism of Israel. That's just a day after Israel celebrated the opening of a U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, a move backing Israel's view of the contested city as its capital.

We're joined now by NPR's Daniel Estrin in Gaza. Hi, Daniel.


SHAPIRO: Let's first start with where you are in Gaza. What's been going on at the border there?

ESTRIN: Today was a much quieter day. The Israeli army says just 4,000 protesters showed up today at the border compared to about 14,000 yesterday. We didn't hear any mosques today rallying people to go to the border like we did yesterday. This seems to be tapering off. But today Gaza officials say troops killed at least two Palestinians. And there were a lot of burials today of those killed yesterday, nearly 60 people, including several teenagers. And, you know, in a place this size - very small, only close to 2 million people living here - it seems like everyone here knows a family that lost somebody.

SHAPIRO: And how are the hospitals dealing with the hundreds of wounded?

ESTRIN: I was at Gaza's main hospital today, and it's really overwhelmed. The head of the emergency room said more than 400 people were brought to the hospital yesterday. He says yesterday alone was much higher than the daily average that hospitals treated during the 2014 Gaza war. He said there were no free beds left. He said a dozen operating theaters are working 24/7. They've run out of certain kinds of sutures, certain kinds of anticoagulants, the kinds of things you need to treat gunshot wounds. And Egypt says it's also taking in some of the wounded.

SHAPIRO: What is Israel saying about its use of force?

ESTRIN: It's defending its use of force. It says no country can tolerate what is happening at the border. For instance, today the army says it appears at least 24 of those killed by Israel were operatives of Hamas and some from another group, the Islamic jihad. Israel says eight armed men hurled pipe bombs and grenades at the fence yesterday. And Israel says it's opening fire to defend the border. And it says Hamas is orchestrating all of this. And the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, agrees. Now, Palestinians say 60 people killed is intolerable. Teenagers killed is intolerable. And these are people who are unarmed.

SHAPIRO: The U.N. Security Council met about this today. The U.S. blocked a call for an independent investigation of the deaths. Tell us more about what's happening there.

ESTRIN: There's condemnation around the world. The U.N. Mideast envoy said there was no justification for the killing. He also said Hamas must not use these protests as cover to attempt to place bombs at the fence. We heard from the U.K. The U.K. said Israel must respect the principle of proportionality in its use of force. Israel's ambassadors to Belgium and Ireland are being summoned by those countries. Turkey is asking the Israeli envoy there to leave. And Israel is expelling Turkey's envoy in Jerusalem. And - not a surprise here - the Palestinians are pulling out their representative in Washington.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's Daniel Estrin reporting from Gaza. Thanks, Daniel.

ESTRIN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Daniel Estrin is NPR's international correspondent in Jerusalem.
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