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Morning news brief

ROB SCHMITZ, HOST:

Residents of a refugee camp are spending this week in the midst of a military operation.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Israel sent troops and drones into the camp at Jenin. It's in the occupied West Bank. And for decades, that camp has been home to Palestinians displaced from Israel during its War of Independence. Israel says the camp is also a base for militants, which is why Israeli troops opened fire in an operation that has so far left 10 Palestinians dead.

(SOUNDBITE OF GUNSHOT)

NOWRAS: You see? You can hear, I think, yes?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Non-English language spoken).

(SOUNDBITE OF GUNSHOT)

SCHMITZ: NPR's Daniel Estrin recorded that call and joins us now from Tel Aviv. Daniel, that was a chilling tape there that we heard. Who were you speaking to there?

DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: That's a nurse in the Jenin government hospital. He gave me his first name, Nowras. And he says that everyone in the hospital has been hearing a lot of that lately - Israeli army shooting - because the hospital is close to the camp where troops are operating. I spoke to the hospital director, who says medical teams have not gone home for about 36 hours straight. They're treating people of all ages, mostly with tear gas inhalation wounds. But a lot of those with critical injuries are mostly young men, 15 to 25 years old, he said. They have come in with head, neck, chest wounds from bullets and also from Israel's drone airstrikes. And Israel has also destroyed many roads in the area. This is what the hospital director told me, Dr. Wissam Bakr.

WISSAM BAKR: One road is open, but the difficulty and entrance to the camp for the ambulances because the roads all destroyed.

ESTRIN: Now, the Israeli army does acknowledge that only one road is usable now for ambulances. The army says it destroyed many roads because they had intelligence that the roads were booby-trapped. But we are hearing that medics are actually walking by foot into the camp to help.

SCHMITZ: Wow. Besides the hospital, what about life inside the Jenin refugee camp? Because about 10- to 15,000 people live there, right?

ESTRIN: Yeah, and the estimates are even more than that. I mean, we are hearing from the U.N. that up to 6,000 Palestinians fled the camp, which could be about a quarter of the camp's population. We are hearing about hotels receiving people fleeing - even a nearby church opening its doors. The Army operation has left a lot of infrastructure damaged. Most of the camp does not have water or electricity, and so residents were describing just really unbearable heat, no AC at home, no water to flush toilets.

Now, the Palestinian Authority is angry at the U.S. because they're saying that the U.S. is not trying to stop Israel's incursion. The State Department put out a statement calling for civilian lives to be protected, but basically saying the U.S. supports Israel protecting its people against terrorist groups. And Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even attended the U.S. embassy's Fourth of July party and, on stage, praised the operation.

SCHMITZ: That's a stark contrast - between him at a Fourth of July party and what's happening...

ESTRIN: Yeah.

SCHMITZ: ...At the refugee camp. What's Israel's endgame here?

ESTRIN: Well, the Army told me that the troops may need about 1 to 3 more days to go after explosive factories. And they do think that many militants fled the camp, which means that, if they are still at large, they may carry out reprisal attacks after all this is over. That could draw more calls from far-right Israeli officials to hit back even harder. This has been already a very violent year. At least 130 Palestinians have been killed - about 24 people killed on the Israeli side. And you know what? Many Israeli military experts are looking at this and saying this operation cannot solve the deeper problems - West Bank settler violence against Palestinians, young Palestinians turning increasingly to weapons, no horizon for a better life for Palestinians under occupation.

SCHMITZ: That's NPR's Daniel Estrin in Tel Aviv. Daniel, thanks for your reporting.

ESTRIN: You're welcome.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SCHMITZ: Russia's invasion of Ukraine keeps coming home to Russia.

INSKEEP: When the invasion started last year, it seemed that Russian territory was secure. It was protected by nuclear weapons, and Ukraine had no obvious way to strike back. But in recent months, armed groups have conducted operations on Russian soil. Russia's own mercenaries briefly raced toward Moscow. Drones attacked the Kremlin. And this morning, Russia says drones tried to attack a Moscow airport.

SCHMITZ: For the latest, NPR's Greg Myre joins us from the capital, Kyiv. Welcome, Greg.

GREG MYRE, BYLINE: Hi, Rob.

SCHMITZ: What do we know about what happened today?

MYRE: So Russia says the Vnukovo airport, just to the south of Moscow, came under an attempted drone attack early this morning. The defense ministry says that, near the airport and surrounding areas, four drones were shot down. A fifth was intercepted and fell harmlessly. Incoming flights were temporarily diverted, but operations are back to normal. This is one of three big civilian airports that serve Moscow. Russia is blaming Ukraine, calling it an act of terrorism. Ukraine isn't commenting. However, Ukrainian officials have spoken about how they're extending the range of their drones to reach Moscow, which is about 300 miles from Ukraine's border.

SCHMITZ: So sticking with Russia here, are there signs of potential fallout from this recent internal rebellion by a mercenary leader there?

MYRE: Well, CIA Director William Burns certainly thinks so. He gave a rare public speech in Britain over the weekend and said Russians are increasingly disenchanted with the war, and he believes the CIA can capitalize on this. Let's have a listen.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WILLIAM BURNS: That disaffection creates a once-in-a-generation opportunity for us at CIA - at our core, a human intelligence service. We're not letting it go to waste.

MYRE: So this is not something you hear often from a spy chief.

SCHMITZ: That's right.

MYRE: He's openly saying that he thinks the Russians - some Russians in key positions may be ready and willing to turn on the Russian government and work for the U.S. as spies. In fact, the CIA has put out a video on the Telegram app telling Russians how they can contact the CIA securely. It's also the latest example of the U.S. intelligence community openly talking about what it's thinking and doing when it comes to Russia. Burns called it a, quote, "novel and effective strategy" that has limited Russia's ability to create false narratives.

SCHMITZ: That's fascinating. Let's turn to Ukraine's offensive. What's the latest on that front?

MYRE: Yeah, a top Ukrainian official said this morning that the past few days of the offensive have been, quote, "particularly fruitful." This comes in a tweet from the head of the National Security and Defense Council, Oleksiy Danilov. And it's really the most upbeat assessment by a Ukrainian official we've heard in a while. Now, he didn't announce the capture of any additional territory, but he said Ukraine was achieving, quote, "the maximum destruction of manpower, equipment, fuel depots, military vehicles and command posts." We can't independently verify it - not hearing it from other Ukrainian officials, but it would be in keeping with Ukraine's effort to weaken Russian forces before making a big push with the bulk of its forces.

SCHMITZ: That's NPR's Greg Myre in Kyiv. Greg, thank you.

MYRE: Sure thing, Rob.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SCHMITZ: Today, Highland Park, Ill., remembers the people who were killed and injured a year ago in a mass shooting.

INSKEEP: A gunman climbed onto a rooftop in that Chicago suburb and fired on a Fourth of July parade.

SCHMITZ: Alex Degman of member station WBEZ joins us. Hello, Alex.

ALEX DEGMAN, BYLINE: Hi, Rob.

SCHMITZ: So Highland Park has held a July Fourth parade for years. But last year, residents saw something they never thought they would see. Remind us what occurred.

DEGMAN: Right. The parade had just begun, when there were gunshots. A man with an assault weapon fired more than 80 rounds into the crowd, and it was chaos. Elected officials, first responders and their families - they were all there at this parade, and they were scrambling to make sure that their families were safe first. And then, immediately, they had to shift their attention to the paradegoers and the people marching in the parade.

Mayor Nancy Rotering, who was at the parade, says she's talked to a lot of adults since then who never thought a shooting would occur in their town. But children had a totally different response.

NANCY ROTERING: Every single one of them said, we expected this to happen in Highland Park. The adults were like, how could this ever happen in Highland Park? But the kids said, we expected this to happen, and we expected it to happen in school.

DEGMAN: And instead, it happened on a parade route. When the shooting stopped, seven people had been killed. Forty-eight people were injured. A hunt for the gunman lasted several hours and ended with police taking him into custody after a car chase.

SCHMITZ: Oftentimes, children know far more than adults in these situations. Highland Park said there would be no parade this year. What is happening today?

DEGMAN: Well, it's actually a day full of events, but officials planned the day today knowing that people are still healing. They're starting by commemorating the seven people who lost their lives and the many more who were injured, and there's also going to be what they're calling a community walk. It's going to be a walk along the parade route that was marred last year. There won't be floats or politicians or bands. There's also a community picnic. There's some live music at the high school. And instead of fireworks, there's going to be a 10- to 15-minute drone show called "We Are Highland Park."

SCHMITZ: How are people feeling about security?

DEGMAN: Well, the people I've talked to are feeling pretty good. There are restrictions set up at some events. Some metal detectors are going to be at entrances to things like the remembrance ceremony and the community walk. And they've asked people not to line up as spectators for the walk. And there's also going to be more police. They'll be using helicopters. There's going to be drones. And you'll probably see more of them perched on rooftops, and there are going to be officers from other nearby towns.

And it's interesting to note - Highland Park already had an assault weapons ban in place last year. But the Illinois state legislature, after the shooting, enacted a statewide ban, and another piece of legislation that they passed will allow for local police to use drones to patrol large events like this parade and festivals.

SCHMITZ: So what is the latest with the alleged shooter? And I understand it's not just him facing charges here.

DEGMAN: Yeah, the accused gunman is Robert Crimo III. He was 21 at the time. He faces 117 charges, and that includes 21 for first-degree murder. He's got a hearing in September, and we could see a trial date set then. His father, Robert Crimo Jr, faces seven counts of reckless conduct, and that's over the sponsorship of his son's firearm owner's ID card. Now, that's needed to own a gun here. But anybody under 21 has to have a sponsor to get a card, and the suspect was 19 when he got his. And a lot of people are angry because police were called to the Crimo house multiple times. In one instance, family members said that Crimo was threatening to kill everyone there. And authorities confiscated knives, but said that there wasn't any sign of any guns there. And the Lake County state's attorney is alleging that the elder Crimo knew that his son might be troubled, but signed off on the FOID card anyway. Now, I should mention that those court dates are a ways off, but today is about remembering the victims of the shooting and just bringing the community back together.

SCHMITZ: That's WBEZ's Alex Degman. Thank you, Alex.

DEGMAN: You're welcome. 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.
Rob Schmitz is NPR's international correspondent based in Berlin, where he covers the human stories of a vast region reckoning with its past while it tries to guide the world toward a brighter future. From his base in the heart of Europe, Schmitz has covered Germany's levelheaded management of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of right-wing nationalist politics in Poland and creeping Chinese government influence inside the Czech Republic.