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Israel

Five years ago, the U.N. warned that Gaza is expected to be unlivable by 2020. A new report now says conditions are deteriorating there even faster than it forecast.

"What needed to happen has not happened, and the indicators are accelerating instead of slowing down," Robert Piper, the U.N. Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, told NPR's Daniel Estrin.

President Donald Trump
Flickr Photo/Gage Skidmore (CC BY SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/9hKraP

President Donald Trump is the latest in a succession of U.S. presidents pledging unbreakable support for Israel. Last year, for instance, the U.S. signed a $38-billion military aid package with the Israelis even as Washington pressed Israel to make peace with the Palestinians.

As a presidential candidate, Trump signaled an intent to bolster Israel, but in the early days of the his administration, the language of support has become less robust.

President Trump spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the phone Sunday, in what was one of Trump's first conversations with a foreign leader since taking office.

The discussion was "very nice," Trump said after a ceremony to swear in senior White House staff. The White House later put out a statement saying the president invited Netanyahu to visit in February.

When Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Six-Day War, no Israeli citizens had lived in the territory for nearly two decades, since an earlier war. But in 1968, a small group of religious Jews rented rooms at the Park Hotel in Hebron for Passover, saying they wanted to be near the Tomb of the Patriarchs, one of the holiest sites in Judaism (as well as Islam and Christianity).

With his tenure as secretary of state rapidly pulling to a close, John Kerry made an impassioned defense for a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Wednesday.

Kerry said he is concerned that some Israeli politicians are rejecting it.

"If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic; it cannot be both, and it won't ever really be at peace," said Kerry.

Israel says it is suspending tens of thousands of movement permits for Palestinians a day after a mass shooting at a Tel Aviv food and retail center that killed four Israelis.

Israeli police identified the gunmen as two Palestinian cousins in their 20s. They were apprehended Wednesday night, and one of them "remains in an Israeli hospital after being wounded by security forces responding to the attack," NPR's Emily Harris tells our Newscast unit.

Jonathan Pollard is out of prison, if not totally free, after 30 years. He's on parole for another five years, during which he'll have to wear a GPS ankle bracelet, won't be able to give interviews, or leave for Israel, where he is considered a hero, and says he wants to live.

He also won't be able to use the internet without U.S. government scrutiny. Someone will point out: can any of us?

Two Palestinians armed with a gun and a knife boarded a bus in Jerusalem last week, and killed two Israelis and injured about 15 other passengers.

The attack took place just 200 feet from the Eitan School, an elementary school with a Jewish religious curriculum. One parent had almost boarded that bus, but at the last minute, his wife Rebecca Amar told him to take the car.

"It was like a miracle that he didn't take the bus, because [the attack] could happen when he was on the bus," Amar said.

Who is a Jew? It's an age-old question that in Israel been determined by government-selected rabbis in the decades since the country was established in 1948.

But now a group of Orthodox rabbis is challenging the state's control on determining who is and isn't Jewish — a status that affects many important aspects of life in Israel.

The parents of 7-year-old Lihi Goldstein weren't thinking about their daughter's future wedding when they adopted her as a toddler. Israelis Amit and Regina Goldstein picked the blue-eyed girl from a crowd of children at an orphanage in Ukraine.

Early one morning a couple of weeks ago, rheumatologist Anas Muhana got into his 2008 tan Mercedes jeep, turned on the ignition and drove from his home in Ramallah to his work at Al-Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem.

It was the first time he had been allowed to do this in 15 years.

Muhana is Palestinian. His car has a green and white Palestinian license plate. And in 2000, at the start of the second intifada, Israel stopped allowing cars with Palestinian plates to cross checkpoints from the West Bank.

(This post was last updated at 5:15 p.m. ET.)

Two assailants, armed with a gun, knives and axes, launched an attack on worshippers at a Jerusalem Synagogue on Tuesday. It left five dead and at least six others wounded.

The U.S. State Department said three of the four killed were dual American and Israeli citizens. A policeman injured in the attack died late Tuesday, Haaretz reported.

Flickr Photo/Jelle Drok (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds talks to Rick Steves, travel writer best known for the public television show "Rick Steves' Europe," about his travels to Palestine and Israel. 

(This post was last updated at 12:47 p.m. ET.)

After seven weeks of intense fighting that's killed more than 2,000 people, Hamas and Israel have announced a long-term cease-fire deal.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas made the announcement in Ramallah on Tuesday, saying both sides will return to the negotiating table to deal with other demands. Abbas suggested he wanted an outcome that ends the cycle of war in the region.

Marcie Sillman speaks with Safaa Elhaji and Daniel Oron, two organizers of the Middle East Peace Camp, which for 12 years has brought together Jewish and Arab children to educate them about conflict resolution and human rights.

Ross Reynolds talks with Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer about the battle over sewage that's been raging on between the U.S. and BC for 20 years. They also discuss the controversy over the whales and dolphins being kept by the Vancouver Aquarium, as well as Premier Christy Clark's surprising stance on the Gaza conflict.

Israeli officials say the country's deadly ground offensive won't end until its soldiers destroy a vast network of Hamas tunnels the militants use to try to attack Jewish communities outside the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Ground Operation In Gaza Continues

Jul 18, 2014

This post was updated at 6:15 p.m. ET:

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will travel to the Middle East on Saturday in hopes of finding a way to stop the fighting between Israel and Hamas.

"Israel has legitimate security concerns, and we condemn the indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza into Israel that ended yesterday's temporary cease-fire," Jeffrey Feltman, deputy U.N. secretary-general for political affairs, told the Security Council on Friday. "But we are alarmed by Israel's heavy response."

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We're hearing many voices about the latest conflict this week. Ron Dermer, Israel's ambassador to the United States is next. He's on the line. Ambassador, welcome back to the program.

RON DERMER: Thank you for having me again.

INSKEEP: OK. So the tactics here seem pretty clear. Hamas is shooting from Gaza into Israel. So Israel is shooting into Gaza. But can you take us a little farther than that, Ambassador, into the long-term - into strategy? What strategic gain is Israel making by its moves in the last several days?

Marcie Sillman talks with journalist Lesley Hazleton about the disparate ways young and old Jews regard the actions of Israel, and what this means for their future.

Joel Migdal's book "Shifting Sands."

Steve Scher talks to University of Washington professor Joel Migdal about his new book "Shifting Sands: The United States and The Middle East."

Ari Shavit's book "My Promised Land."

Marcie Sillman talks with Israeli journalist and author Ari Shavit about his new book, "My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel".

AP Photo/Uncredited

Israel has carried out a joint missile test with the US in the Mediterranean, amid heightened tension over possible Western military strikes on Syria.

The test came as the US Congress prepared for its first public hearing on a possible military response to alleged chemical weapons use by Syria.