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100 days of war: 23,000 killed in Gaza, with over 60% of homes destroyed

AYESHA RASCOE, HOST:

Today marks a grim milestone in the war between Israel and Hamas - 100 days of war. On October 7, when Hamas fighters attacked southern Israel, they took hostages and killed 1,200 people. Since then, Israel has dropped thousands of bombs on Gaza. More than 60% of all homes in Gaza have been destroyed, displacing nearly everyone from their homes. We're joined now by NPR correspondent Aya Batrawy. Good morning, Aya.

AYA BATRAWY, BYLINE: Good morning, Ayesha.

RASCOE: You've been covering this war since the start and talking to people both in Gaza and Israel. And let's start in Israel, where you're at now. What's the mood?

BATRAWY: Well, here in Israel, Ayesha, life has gone back to normal for many people. You know, the bars are open. I saw people surfing yesterday out at sea, and local shops are open again. But for those who've lost family and their homes in the attack, life will never be the same, and some people say they still don't feel safe. I was at a rally last night in support of the more than 100 hostages still in Gaza. It drew thousands of Israelis demanding, bring them home. And that's where I met 26-year-old Mayan Laverne.

MAYAN LAVERNE: To me, it feels like it's proof that no one is safe here. Like, it could have easily been me or my family. I think every Israeli knows someone who had a family member murdered or kidnapped. Like, it feels so close to home. It is home.

RASCOE: And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the country on TV last night. What did he say?

BATRAWY: He says the war is not going to end until Hamas is eradicated, and, I quote, "nobody will stop us," not even The Hague. And here, he's referring to the crime of genocide in Gaza that Israel is being accused of at the International Court of Justice.

RASCOE: Let's turn to Gaza now. What is the situation there like a hundred days into this war?

BATRAWY: There are thousands of children orphaned by this war who've seen their parents die or who were pulled from underneath the rubble of their homes, sometimes the sole survivors of their family. There are thousands of people, including children, who've lost their limbs in airstrikes. The health care system is on the verge of collapse. And while the health ministry in Gaza says more than 23,000 people have been confirmed killed, most of them women and children, the actual death toll is much higher, they say, because of the number of people crushed under the rubble. More than half the population are crammed in overcrowded U.N.-run schools. There's little to no running water or electricity. Disease is spreading, and now famine is a growing concern.

RASCOE: The war has also affected the West Bank. What's the situation there?

BATRAWY: It's volatile and restless. You know, there's more than 300 people that have been killed there in the past 100 days, a quarter of them children. There's been violence by Jewish settlers and Israeli airstrikes on refugee camps in the West Bank. Um Zakaria, a woman who was out running errands in Ramallah, told my colleague Lauren Frayer today that people in the West Bank have demands that are being ignored.

UM ZAKARIA: (Non-English language spoken).

BATRAWY: She says Palestinians in the West Bank want their detainees released, a cease-fire in Gaza, more medical aid to enter Gaza and for Israel to stop targeting hospitals there.

RASCOE: With a hundred days now marked in this war, what has stood out most to you in your reporting?

BATRAWY: I think, first, that the impact of this war is not just in Israel or Gaza or the West Bank, but it is felt regionally, and it has drawn the U.S. in as well. And there's this disconnect in the discourse and the way people are experiencing this war. You know, when I speak to people in Tel Aviv, they're very aware of the public anger toward Israel in some parts of the world. And Israelis, too - they've been critical of their government. But they see this war as necessary for Israel's survival. Meanwhile, in Gaza, people there cannot understand how the world has allowed this to happen. They feel dehumanized. And I've spoken to medical workers in Gaza who say children as young as 5 are contemplating suicide.

RASCOE: That's NPR's Aya Batrawy in Tel Aviv. Thank you so much for your reporting.

BATRAWY: Thank you, Ayesha. 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.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.
Aya Batrawy
Aya Batraway is an NPR International Correspondent based in Dubai. She joined in 2022 from the Associated Press, where she was an editor and reporter for over 11 years.