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Without A Truce, Strikes Resume In Gaza


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Lourdes Garcia-Navarro. Scott Simon is away this week. Hopes for a resolution to the month-long conflict between Israel and Hamas are evaporating. A cease-fire ended yesterday. Since then, Hamas has fired dozens of rockets into Israel, which has responded with airstrikes. At least 10 people have been killed in Gaza since fighting resumed - one, a 10-year-old boy. NPR's Alice Fordham reports that people who had gone home are now fleeing back to U.N. shelters.

ALICE FORDHAM, BYLINE: The courtyard of this UNRWA school is full of activity, kids running around. There's a woman washing dishes, resting her pot on a desk. There's a baby swinging on a swing in a classroom. There's laundry hanging everywhere. But people here are saying that a couple days ago, when the cease-fire was underway, this place was empty.

MAHMOUD AL MASHARAWI: (Speaking Arabic).

FORDHAM: But everyone came back, says Mahmoud al Masharawi, who's here in the Gaza Preparatory School B with more than 40 members of his extended family. When the cease-fire began Tuesday, they walked back to their damaged houses an hour and a half away, found shelter and began searching the rubble for photos of a brother they'd lost in the month-long conflict here. But as peace talks in Cairo fell apart and Hamas vowed to resume fighting, they walked right back. I ask how safe it is here.

AL MASHARAWI: (Speaking Arabic).

FORDHAM: Masharawi says after the Israelis hit schools in the areas of Beit Hanoun in the north of Gaza and Rafah City in the south, he doesn't feel safe anywhere here.

AL MASHARAWI: (Speaking Arabic).

FORDHAM: As he speaks, the boom of a distant airstrike - it's safer here, he says. Israel says it targets only Hamas operatives and infrastructure and that the militants deliberately fire missiles from civilian buildings. As children kick a ball outside, I meet the U.N. worker running the school while it serves as a shelter.

ABU JALAL: (Speaking Arabic).

FORDHAM: He asks to be known only as Abu Jalal because he's not officially allowed to talk to media.

JALAL: (Speaking Arabic).

FORDHAM: He says people have brought back supplies from their houses - mattresses, clothes. They expect to stay a while. The Israeli delegation has left the negotiations in Egypt for now, although the Palestinian delegation says it's still talking to the Egyptian mediators. But no one seems to be in a hurry. U.N. figures suggest that of 10,000 Gazans who left their shelters under the cease-fire, most have now come back. I walk around the rest of the school, past children boiling water on a makeshift fire in an old tin can, and meet Nada Nassar, a pretty woman in a dark red headscarf. She's 45 with eight children to worry about and an 80-year-old mother who sits at her feet wearing the only dress she has left.

NADA NASSAR: (Speaking Arabic).

FORDHAM: Nada didn't go home when last week's three-day cease-fire began. I had to drag my mother into a taxi to get her here, she says. I'm not going to do it again, so we're going to wait.

NASSAR: (Speaking Arabic).

FORDHAM: I'm waiting for a final agreement, she says. When there's an agreement, I'll go back to my place - but just for a cease-fire? No. Alice Fordham. NPR News, Gaza. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Alice Fordham is an NPR International Correspondent based in Beirut, Lebanon.