People in Gaza are said to be in need of shelter, food, water and medicine
A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:
Aid groups in Gaza are warning that the enclave is near complete collapse.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Hundreds of thousands of people need food, water and medicine, at a minimum. Many people have fled their homes, and hospitals say they will soon be unable to care for people.
MARTÍNEZ: NPR's Peter Kenyon joins us from Jerusalem. Peter, so let's start with what's happening with getting that aid into Gaza.
PETER KENYON, BYLINE: Well, that is, of course, a huge issue, getting humanitarian aid from Egypt through the Rafah Border Crossing to the Gaza Strip. Trucks have headed from the Sinai toward the Crossing, loaded with aid to replenish the rapidly dwindling supplies in Gaza, but there are reports this morning that Israeli forces bombed the Rafah Crossing again. There had been some questions about who was holding up this aid delivery. This morning's strike makes clear who at least one of the parties is. There have been intense diplomatic efforts on this front, as we heard, and those are expected to continue. One Israeli concern, according to some reports, is that all the aid trucks have to be searched for fear they might be carrying weapons into the Gaza Strip. Other reports say that could be one issue, it's not clear if that's the only one. Aid workers are warning that time is running out before a huge humanitarian crisis unfolds in Gaza. They say people are drinking unsafe water, and virtually everything they need is in short supply.
MARTÍNEZ: Wow. OK. So that's the aid. What about the war itself?
KENYON: Well, the Israeli military, the IDF, says its forces killed Osama Mazini, who Israel says was a key official responsible for prisoners taken by Hamas and also, quote, "directed terrorist activities against Israel." On a more general level, the IDF says it's been launching strikes both in the Gaza Strip and against Hezbollah targets and infrastructure in Lebanon in response to Hezbollah fire targeting Israel. Now, on the Palestinian side, the Ministry of Health continues to report on dead and wounded from the Israeli strikes. The latest report says dozens were killed, dozens more wounded by strikes at the Rafah Crossing and at Khan Yunis. Also, it reports some 1,200 reports of people trapped under the rubble of homes hit by airstrikes. The ministry says, quote, "we hope that some of them are still alive."
MARTÍNEZ: Any word from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu?
KENYON: Well, yes. He was addressing lawmakers yesterday in the Knesset, told them he was issuing a warning to Hamas and particularly Hezbollah in Lebanon. He said, quote, "don't test us in the North. Don't make the mistake of the past." That's a reference to the 2006 conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. Today, Netanyahu warned the price you will pay will be far heavier. He was then interrupted by air raid sirens and had to leave for a shelter along with Knesset members.
MARTÍNEZ: Iran is believed to be a prime benefactor to both Hamas and Hezbollah. What have they said?
KENYON: Well, of course, the rhetoric from Iranian officials has been steadily escalating. Just today, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is quoted as saying "those living in Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine are not civilians," he said. He said they're mostly armed. He also called for Israeli officials to be, quote, "tried for their crimes." Separately, Iran's foreign minister is warning that, quote, "preemptive action is possible if Israel does appear to be launching a ground operation." It's not clear what that preemptive action would be constituted of. Iran has been seen for years as a main benefactor of both Hamas and Hezbollah. Tehran says it's supplying funds, not weapons. But there's little doubt that's what most of the money is used for. And of course, the ability of Hamas and Hezbollah - both groups - to receive caches of weapons has long been a point of great frustration for both Israel and the West.
MARTÍNEZ: That's NPR's Peter Kenyon in Jerusalem. Thanks for sorting this out, Peter.
KENYON: Thanks A. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
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