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As Israel resumes bombing in the north, thousands of Gazans face desperate conditions


Over the past few weeks, most of the fighting in the Israel-Hamas War in Gaza has moved south, but the north is once again experiencing heavy bombardment, which means that at least 100,000 Gazans, many of whom already lost their homes, find themselves in the middle of renewed fighting. NPR's Eyder Peralta reports from Tel Aviv.

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: The last time NPR spoke to Tasneem Ahel was in October. Her house was destroyed, so she took shelter with her uncle. Since then, she's been moving around Gaza City.

TASNEEM AHEL: It's very hard to describe how it's - the conditions where I get hardly more and more, and we are still trying to survive.

PERALTA: Her family is not rich, she says, so food has become a luxury.

AHEL: People wondering if they can eat the paper of the trees.

PERALTA: The leaves of the trees - they're living in a real-life horror movie, she says.


AHEL: We are still living this now. It's not the gunfire. Someone...

PERALTA: The banging, she explains - it's not gunfire. It's someone stripping wood from a building so they can build a fire and cook.

AHEL: It's the normal sound for us these days.

PERALTA: Following the Hamas attack in Israel, which killed 1,200 people, the Israeli military pummeled the northern part of Gaza for several months. Most of Gaza's population - some 2 million people - fled to the south. For the past few weeks, Israel also moved its campaign to the south. But this week, the Israeli military said Hamas has resurged in the north, so Israel has once again accelerated its bombing there. The humanitarian organization Mercy Corps still has a few staffers working in northern Gaza. And Arnaud Quemin, who oversees that work, says much of the north was leveled by Israel's bombardment, so life there is especially desperate.

ARNAUD QUEMIN: We haven't seen vegetables in months. Bread is also extremely rare. They mostly eat once a day, and it's usually rice.

PERALTA: Quemin says the price of food and fuel skyrocketed, and that is made worse because few aid trucks are being allowed in by Israel. Quemin says even when the trucks make it, the distribution has been rocked by chaos. He says in one case, Gazans rushed to an aid truck desperate for food.

QUEMIN: And people were, like, crushed against the truck. Some others were, like, grabbing some goods that were on the truck. And then, in the end, I think they had to cancel the distribution.

PERALTA: In northern Gaza, Hmaid Jameel, 24, sends us voice notes from Beit Lahia, just north of Gaza City. He says his days are consumed by standing in line for food, for water. He digs through the rubble, looking for materials for firewood.

HMAID JAMEEL: (Non-English language spoken).

PERALTA: "In the first days of the war, dead bodies were on the streets," he says. "We used to dig through the rubble looking for survivors."

JAMEEL: (Non-English language spoken).

PERALTA: "But after all the misery I went through," he says, "I stopped digging."

JAMEEL: (Non-English language spoken).

PERALTA: "It's not that we care less," he says. "It's that we are exhausted." "These days," he says, "it feels like the first days of the war."

They move from place to place, trying to avoid the constant Israeli bombardment. Sometimes he passes bodies on the street, but there's nowhere to take them. Most of the hospitals are barely working. There is nowhere to bury them.

JAMEEL: (Non-English language spoken).

PERALTA: So the only thing he can do is take off his jacket and drape it over the body.

Eyder Peralta, NPR News, Tel Aviv. 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.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.

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