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Aid workers in Gaza say nowhere is safe after Israeli attacks on 'humanitarian zones'

AYESHA RASCOE, HOST:

Aid workers are describing horrific images as the Israeli military intensifies its deadly operation in Southern Gaza. President Biden on Friday laid out a plan to end the war, but Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said his conditions for a cease-fire remained unchanged - unchanged to destroy Hamas and release the remaining hostages. NPR's Hadeel Al-Shalchi has this report.

HADEEL AL-SHALCHI, BYLINE: Dorotea Gucciardo is standing on the roof of her guest house in the al-Muwasi neighborhood of Rafa, looking at the Mediterranean Sea.

DOROTEA GUCCIARDO: Today, like nearly every day in Gaza, it's warm, it's sunny, and there's a clear blue sky.

AL-SHALCHI: Gucciardo is with the Canadian NGO Glia, whose medical teams support field hospitals in Rafa. She shifts her gaze to the left, and that's where that blue Gaza sky turns gray and ominous.

GUCCIARDO: I'm standing here watching the neighborhood that my team has been working in every single day since February burn.

AL-SHALCHI: The Gaza health ministry and international aid groups say an Israel strike at al-Muwasi killed over 20 Palestinians on Tuesday. The area was designated a humanitarian zone. Israel's military denied the strike, but Gucciardo says her team saw firsthand the devastation that night.

GUCCIARDO: The primary healthcare center that my team had been working in was converted into a morgue in order to accommodate the bodies.

AL-SHALCHI: The al-Muwasi attack came after another Israeli airstrike on an encampment for displaced Palestinians on Sunday. Prime Minister Netanyahu called that one a tragic mistake. It killed over 40 Palestinians.

JAMES SMITH: It almost defies comprehension to be able to speak about more than one massacre.

AL-SHALCHI: James Smith is a British emergency doctor who's been working in Rafa for the past couple of months.

SMITH: Is it the flour massacre? Is it the bakery massacre? Now it's the IDP camp massacre.

AL-SHALCHI: The attacks came days after the United Nations' top court ordered Israel to immediately halt its operation in Rafa. But as of now, Palestinians in Gaza still say nowhere is safe.

Hadeel Al-Shalchi, 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.

Hadeel Al-Shalchi
Hadeel al-Shalchi is an editor with Weekend Edition. Prior to joining NPR, Al-Shalchi was a Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press and covered the Arab Spring from Tunisia, Bahrain, Egypt, and Libya. In 2012, she joined Reuters as the Libya correspondent where she covered the country post-war and investigated the death of Ambassador Chris Stephens. Al-Shalchi also covered the front lines of Aleppo in 2012. She is fluent in Arabic.