Daniel Estrin

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Updated June 3, 2021 at 4:21 PM ET

He's the son of American immigrants who became a self-made tech millionaire before entering the rough-and-tumble world of Israeli politics.

After 11 days of fighting between Israel and Hamas, a cease-fire went into effect at 2 a.m. local time Friday. Gaza health officials say at least 240 people were killed there by waves of airstrikes from Israel. Twelve people died in Israel from more than 4,000 rockets fired by militants in Gaza, according to Israeli officials.

Friday was the first day that foreign journalists were allowed to enter the Gaza Strip since the fighting began.

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After 11 days of bombing and rocket fire in Israel and Gaza, the violence has stopped. Both sides are claiming victory. This is the sound of celebrations along the Gaza Strip last night after the cease-fire was called.

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Israel has ramped up its attacks on the Gaza Strip to a new level, including using 160 aircraft along with artillery and tank fire to pummel what it says is a tunnel network that Hamas militants rely on to move people and equipment. And Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel isn't done.

"This is not yet over. We will do everything to restore security to our cities and our people," Netanyahu said in a statement issued from Tel Aviv.

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Updated May 12, 2021 at 8:47 PM ET

LOD, Israel — Intense exchanges of rocket fire and airstrikes have turned life upside down for people in Gaza and Israel, and the conflict has no end in sight. In many instances, the violence has killed indiscriminately.

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Updated May 11, 2021 at 4:07 AM ET

JERUSALEM — A new round of Israeli-Palestinian violence continued to escalate Monday as Palestinian militants fired rockets from Gaza toward Jerusalem and Israel responded with airstrikes.

Palestinian health officials said 24 people, including nine children, were killed in the strikes. The Israel Defense Forces would not confirm those figures but said three Palestinian militants were killed in a targeted attack.

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JERUSALEM — Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday tapped centrist opposition figure Yair Lapid to try to form a new government, sparking potentially weeks of political negotiations that could break Israel's cycle of inconclusive elections and lead to the end of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's record-breaking uninterrupted 12-year tenure.

But there are "many difficulties" to forming a new government, Rivlin acknowledged, leaving open the possibility of an unprecedented fifth election in the span of two years.

Updated April 30, 2021 at 9:52 AM ET

JERUSALEM — At least 45 people were killed and some 150 more injured in a crush at a religious festival of ultra-Orthodox Jews in northern Israel, where tens of thousands of faithful had convened in one of the country's largest events since the pandemic began.

The chaos at Mount Meron began early Friday at the festival of Lag BaOmer, which features bonfires and dancing around the Galilee tomb of a 2nd century rabbi.

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Updated April 29, 2021 at 6:39 PM ET

RAMALLAH, West Bank – It was meant to be a historic and long-overdue vote aimed at ending 15 years of paralyzed and divided leadership. Instead, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday called off next month's parliamentary elections after challengers from his own party threatened to weaken his hold on power.

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Will Palestinians finally get a chance to vote? After a decade and a half without elections, a parliamentary vote is scheduled for May 22. But NPR's Daniel Estrin reports from Ramallah the vote might be called off.

JERUSALEM — In what it calls its most comprehensive report to date on Israel's treatment of Palestinians, Human Rights Watch on Tuesday accused Israel of committing "crimes against humanity" and said the U.S. and the international community have "turned a blind eye." It advocated an international commission of inquiry and sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, against "officials and entities credibly implicated."

JERUSALEM — Israel and Bahrain on Thursday reached what Israel calls the world's first bilateral agreement for mutual recognition of COVID-19 vaccine passports for quarantine-free travel between two countries, an Israeli diplomat who helped forge the deal tells NPR.

"This is the most effective way to enable movement of people between countries," says Ilan Fluss, head of the Israeli foreign ministry's economic division. "A lot of countries are looking at testing, but it is not enough."

Editor's note: The fight against disinformation has become a facet of nearly every story NPR international correspondents cover, from vaccine hesitancy to authoritarian governments spreading lies. This and other stories by NPR correspondents around the globe try to tease out how effective certain tactics have been at combating disinformation, and what lessons can be learned from other countries' experiences.

JERUSALEM — The historic walled Old City of Jerusalem came alive this week with Christian and Jewish religious festivals now that more than a third of the city is inoculated against COVID-19.

No clear victor has emerged in Israel's elections, with nearly 90% of ballots counted in Tuesday's vote.

Neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor his opponents appear to have a secure path to forming a majority coalition needed to win. The scales could tip as more votes are counted in the coming days.

"It's a very close call," said Yohanan Plesner, president of the nonpartisan Israel Democracy Institute. "It looks like the most likely scenario is still continuing deadlock, continued paralysis."

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Some other news now. The outcome of Israel's election is uncertain, just like the outcomes of the past three elections. About 90% of the votes are counted enough for analysts to conclude that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could struggle to form the majority coalition he needs to win another term. NPR's Daniel Estrin reports from Jerusalem.

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DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stopped short of declaring victory.

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Updated March 23, 2021 at 5:31 PM ET

JERUSALEM — For the fourth time in less than two years, Israelis voted Tuesday as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to maintain his grip on power after a record-breaking 12 consecutive years in office.

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America's top infectious disease official Dr. Anthony Fauci received a prestigious $1 million Israeli prize Monday, along with six other researchers who shared two additional $1 million prizes for their contributions to health and medicine.

The Dan David Prize, affiliated with Tel Aviv University, said it honored Fauci for his career in public health and "speaking truth to power" during the politicized COVID-19 crisis.

How does the pandemic affect one of the world's most crowded and battle-scarred territories? From merchants to doctors, the 2.2 million Palestinians of the Gaza Strip are forced to make tough choices to survive.

On a single street, a vegetable seller, supermarket worker and secondhand clothes merchant recently showed up at their day jobs — though the clothes merchant said he was convinced all three of them had COVID-19.

How has tiny Israel beat out bigger countries on COVID-19 vaccinations, securing a steady stream of vials and inoculating a larger share of its citizenry than any other nation?

Israel paid a premium, locked in an early supply of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines and struck a unique deal: vaccines for data.

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