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Tel Aviv returns to a new normal, with faith in the government taking a blow


Our colleague and friend, Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep, arrived in Israel yesterday and encountered a slice of life in an Israel that is at war.

STEVE INSKEEP, BYLINE: We were just leaving the Tel Aviv airport when the taxi driver said it was a day of missile strikes. Hamas and its allies were firing them out of Gaza. The driver was gathering information, as Israelis often do, from phone apps and the car radio and said he himself had just passed near the place where a missile had landed.

ELYAHU MERIMY: And when we go to your hotel now, I can show you still the smoke.

INSKEEP: The smoke from the missile?

MERIMY: Yeah. From the building because it hit...

INSKEEP: From a - it hit a building.

MERIMY: It hit a building.

INSKEEP: He wanted a closer look himself. So we detoured in that direction. He said his name was Elyahu Merimy. Marry me is a good set-up line for a joke.


INSKEEP: Oh, that's a beautiful name.

MERIMY: Yes. Where are you going? I'm going to somewhere. He said, Mr. Merimy. No. I'm already...

INSKEEP: (Laughter).

In his cheerful way. He said it's a very, very bad situation. His daughter lost two friends on October 7, when gunmen led by Hamas attacked a concert outside of Gaza. I asked how she's doing now, and he said, you can ask her, and called her as he drove.

KYLIE: Yeah. I'm here. I'm listening. Hey. How are you?

INSKEEP: Hi. Yes, hello. My name is Steve. I'm very sorry for your loss.

KYLIE: Thank you. Thank you so much. It's a hard time for everyone. And the hardest thing is that everyone lost someone.


KYLIE: Everyone I know knows someone.

MERIMY: Well, if you see, Kylie - her name is Kylie.

INSKEEP: Hi, Kylie.


MERIMY: The missile - the last missile was down right here. Maybe we can see the...

INSKEEP: So we were driving toward the missile strike, and Kylie was still on the phone and said she was lucky only to have lost two friends.

What were their names, your two friends?

KYLIE: Jonathan Eindland and Liam Sham.

INSKEEP: Can you tell me something about them?

KYLIE: Were just happy people, just people that just care of being nice to everyone, never did nothing, like, bad to anyone and, like...

MERIMY: Wrong.

KYLIE: Always took care that everyone would be happy.

INSKEEP: Understood.

KYLIE: Always.

INSKEEP: How are you doing?

KYLIE: I'm good. I'm staying positive. I think that's the way of our culture, of our, like...

MERIMY: I see the fire department.

INSKEEP: Oh, I see.


INSKEEP: Your father's pointing ahead to some sirens up ahead and flashing lights.

MERIMY: (Non-English language spoken). We are just exactly where the hit - the last hit.

INSKEEP: Where the last missile hit.

MERIMY: Yeah. The last missile hit in Tel Aviv on (non-English language spoken) and just here.

INSKEEP: We're on a busy urban street surrounded by high-rise apartment buildings and office.

MERIMY: It's south of Tel Aviv.

INSKEEP: South of Tel Aviv? OK.

Soon we said goodbye to Kylie.

Thank you. Nice to meet you.

KYLIE: Thank you so much.

INSKEEP: Good luck to you.

KYLIE: Bye. Have a good visit.

INSKEEP: Thank you.

KYLIE: Thank you so much. Take care.

INSKEEP: And moved forward to where police and fire trucks blocked the street. We got out to walk.


INSKEEP: Down the street stood a four-story apartment building, its walls blackened.

MERIMY: And look what happened to the building.

INSKEEP: Oh, the roof is completely burned out.

MERIMY: The roof. Yeah.

INSKEEP: The missile came from above and smashed it and destroyed it.

Neighbors told us only a few people were injured, and life went on in that neighborhood - people sitting at sidewalk cafes. It was almost a normal scene. Although Merimy felt unsettled.

How do you think the prime minister is doing?

MERIMY: Very bad.

INSKEEP: He says he voted for Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party every single election.

MERIMY: But after what happened on the 7 of October, I don't know what to think about any one from the government, from the army, from the intelligence. I don't know what to say. How thing like this can happen? I don't trust anyone anymore - nothing really.

INSKEEP: Later on yesterday, we heard explosions over the city, likely the sound of Israeli defenses intercepting additional missiles. We heard news of even more firepower moving in the other direction, what Israel called an intensifying bombardment of Gaza and ground troops expanding their activities. Gaza's internet was disrupted, making it hard to know how many more casualties Palestinians suffered. Israel has said it means to destroy Hamas in a bid to restore the security many Israelis have felt they lost.

SIMON: NPR's Steve Inskeep in 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.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.