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Israel and Hamas have agreed to pause the fighting in Gaza for another day

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Israel and Hamas have agreed on another day's pause in fighting.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Yeah, day by day, as part of the agreement, Hamas is freeing more of the Israelis taken hostage October 7. Israeli authorities are also releasing Palestinians from Israeli jails. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is there to try to build momentum.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ANTONY BLINKEN: We have seen over the last week the very positive development of hostages coming home, being reunited with their families. And that should continue today. It's also enabled an increase in humanitarian assistance to go to innocent civilians in Gaza who need it desperately.

INSKEEP: NPR's Michele Kelemen is traveling with the secretary in Tel Aviv. Hey there, Michele.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Hi, Steve.

INSKEEP: Wow. Listening to that, I think I can hear some weariness in the secretary of state's voice. He's been back-and-forth to Israel a lot. But where does his diplomacy go from here?

KELEMEN: Well, he says he's been relentlessly focused on this issue of the hostages, for a start. The Biden administration's point person on hostage diplomacy is here in Israel as well, and the administration is really just trying to keep this deal going as long as possible to get as many hostages out.

INSKEEP: So day by day, they try to extend it another day. But what happens when this pause is over, whenever it's over, and Israel resumes the attack, as it has said it wants to do?

KELEMEN: Yeah. I mean, Blinken is privately pushing Israel to do much more to protect Palestinians in Gaza once the pause in fighting ends. The real concern is how they operate in the south, which is where Israel told Palestinians to go. You know, thousands of Palestinian civilians have been killed so far in Israel's response to the October 7 attack by Hamas. And, you know, while there has been some relief during this pause, everyone does expect the fighting to resume.

INSKEEP: What are some of the pressures working against a longer pause?

KELEMEN: Well, I mean, just today, you had two gunmen opening fire at an Israeli bus stop on the outskirts of Jerusalem. The Israelis say that three civilians were killed. President Herzog called this just another example of what he described as the endless war that Israel is fighting against terrorist organizations like Hamas. Those were his words again.

INSKEEP: Yeah. And, of course, we're in a situation where there are these smaller acts of violence, whether the wider war continues or not.

Michele, I want to ask about one other thing. Former secretary of state and national security adviser Henry Kissinger has died at the age of 100. I'll note that he was central to delivering U.S. aid to Israel during a war 50 years ago in 1973, one of many controversies and wars and conflicts around the world he was involved in in some way. What are people saying about him now?

KELEMEN: Well, Secretary Blinken said that he often sought out Kissinger's advice over the years, including just a month ago. He said that Kissinger set the standard for everyone who followed him in the job.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BLINKEN: Few people were better students of history. Even fewer people did more to shape history than Henry Kissinger.

KELEMEN: So this was a man, for all his controversies, continued to really be a player in diplomacy right up to the end into his 100th year.

INSKEEP: NPR's Michele Kelemen, traveling with the secretary of state - the current secretary of state, Tony Blinken. Thanks so much.

KELEMEN: Thank you. 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.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Michele Kelemen has been with NPR for two decades, starting as NPR's Moscow bureau chief and now covering the State Department and Washington's diplomatic corps. Her reports can be heard on all NPR News programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
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