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Israeli forces take over southern Gaza's largest hospital

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Israeli forces have entered and taken over southern Gaza's largest hospital, where they believe bodies of some Israeli hostages are being held.

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

And despite international pressure, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vows Israeli forces will go into the southern town of Rafah. That's where at least a million Palestinians are sheltering. After another phone call with President Biden last night, Netanyahu, in a social media post, again rejected calls for a two-state solution.

MARTIN: We're going to go now to NPR's Eleanor Beardsley, who is following all this from Tel Aviv. Eleanor, hello.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: Good morning.

MARTIN: So what is Israel and the Palestinians saying about what's happening in this hospital?

BEARDSLEY: Well, according to Gaza's health ministry, there's no power or heating in the hospital. And fuel for generators is set to run out in the next 24 hours. And the ministry said there are patients on respirators and babies in incubators. They called it a catastrophic situation. Late last night, Israeli Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari spoke. He said Israel does not enter hospitals without good reason. And he said they have proof that Hamas has been hiding and operating inside the Nasser Hospital complex. He even named ambulance drivers who he said had confessed to transporting hostages. You know, Israeli media are also reporting there may be hostages' bodies in that hospital, but we don't have any proof of that yet.

MARTIN: Meanwhile, there's been an increase in cross-border rocket fire in the country's north with the Iran-backed Hezbollah forces in Lebanon. What can you tell us about what's going on there?

BEARDSLEY: Yeah. The two sides have traded rocket barrages that have gone deeper into each other's territory. One Israeli soldier, a young woman, was killed and several injured in an attack this week. And Israel responded with rockets into southern Lebanon, killing eight civilians there. Both sides say they are ready for war if it comes to that. But keep in mind the rhetoric heats up and cools down regularly between Israel and Hezbollah over the border. But there's no doubt it's very high now. And this is happening as Israel remains poised to send ground troops into southern Gaza, the city of Rafah, where at least a million Palestinians are sheltering. And even Egypt is getting increasingly nervous about this and preparing for a possible influx of Palestinian refugees.

MARTIN: I understand that you've also been talking to the families of Israeli hostages right now. What are they saying?

BEARDSLEY: Yeah. You know, Michel, they're still the main moral voice in Israeli society, and they carry a lot of weight. Usually, they meet on Saturday nights. But last night, they gathered in front of Israel's Defense Department in Tel Aviv as the War Cabinet was meeting. They blocked a major four-lane road downtown. They clearly wanted to send a message. And along with huge pictures of hostages, they carried signs that said time is running out and Biden, please save us. They're furious that Israel has left cease-fire talks, and they think winning this war must begin with freeing the more than 130 hostages still being held by Hamas. I spoke with 31-year-old Gil Dickmann, whose cousin Carmel is in Gaza. Here's what he said.

GIL DICKMANN: The most urgent thing is to bring home the hostages. That's the most urgent thing, because it's going to take time to win this war, and the hostages have no time. We have to make sure that they're home, and this is the most important thing. Then we can deal with all the other things.

MARTIN: And I understand that President Biden and Benjamin Netanyahu spoke last night. Can you tell us anything about that?

BEARDSLEY: Well, the gap between Netanyahu and the Biden administration appears to be widening. Netanyahu called the two-state solution a reward for unprecedented terrorism, citing the October 7 Hamas massacre. And after the call, he tweeted that Israel rejects international diktats about a final status solution with the Palestinians.

MARTIN: That is NPR's Eleanor Beardsley in Tel Aviv. Eleanor, thank you so much for this reporting.

BEARDSLEY: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.
Eleanor Beardsley began reporting from France for NPR in 2004 as a freelance journalist, following all aspects of French society, politics, economics, culture and gastronomy. Since then, she has steadily worked her way to becoming an integral part of the NPR Europe reporting team.
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