Emily Harris

International Correspondent Emily Harris is based in Jerusalem as part of NPR's Mideast team. Her post covers news related to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. She began this role in March of 2013.

Over her career, Harris has served in multiple roles within public media. She first joined NPR in 2000, as a general assignment reporter. A prolific reporter often filing two stories a day, Harris covered major stories including 9/11 and its aftermath, including the impact on the airline industry; and the anthrax attacks. She also covered how policies set in Washington are implemented across the country.

In 2002, Harris worked as a Special Correspondent on NOW with Bill Moyer, focusing on investigative storytelling. In 2003 Harris became NPR's Berlin Correspondent, covering Central and Eastern Europe. In that role, she reported regularly from Iraq, leading her to be a key member of the NPR team awarded a 2005 Peabody Award for coverage of the region.

Harris left NPR in December 2007 to become a host for a live daily program, Think Out Loud, on Oregon Public Broadcasting. Under her leadership Harris's team received three back to back Gracie Awards for Outstanding Talk Show, and a share in OPB's 2009 Peabody Award for the series "Hard Times." Harris's other awards include the RIAS Berlin Commission's first-place radio award in 2007 and second-place in 2006. She was a John S. Knight fellow at Stanford University in 2005-2006.

A seasoned reporter, she was asked to help train young journalist through NPR's "Next Generation" program. She also served as editorial director for Journalism Accelerator, a project to bring journalists together to share ideas and experiences; and was a writer-in-residence teaching radio writing to high school students.

One of the aspects of her work that most intrigues her is why people change their minds and what inspires them to do so.

Outside of work, Harris has drafted a screenplay about the Iraq war and for another project is collecting stories about the most difficult parts of parenting.

She has a B.A. in Russian Studies from Yale University.

Earlier this month, more than a dozen writers, poets and activists in Gaza got threatening fliers signed with the name ISIS, the Sunni extremists fighting with brutal violence in Iraq and Syria.

But a few days later, a new flier, also signed ISIS, also known as the Islamic State, denied responsibility and apologized.

The incident is raising the question of whether ISIS is taking root in Gaza — or if someone is just playing around.

People in Gaza are getting impatient with the slow pace of rebuilding. International donors pledged $5.4 billion to help, but little of the money has made it to Gaza yet.

A Gaza tech startup accelerator has gone a different route — international crowdfunding.

Three months after the Gaza Strip war between Hamas and Israel, reconstruction of destroyed homes and businesses has hardly started. Part of the problem is the lack of clear Palestinian government authority on the ground.

Angry men crowded outside the Beautiful Tower Co. for Trade and Contracting in Gaza City last week. They wanted to pay for cement, but the man at the door would let in only one person at a time.

Everyone pushing for a turn had been authorized through a complicated monitoring system endorsed by Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the United Nations to buy materials to fix war-damaged homes. The system is meant to stop militants from getting cement to use for tunnels and even requires Palestinians to get prior approval from home inspectors to buy a single sack of cement.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

After a spate of deadly violence in Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to speed up home demolitions of attackers as a punishment and deterrent.

Muslims call it the Noble Sanctuary. Jews call it the Temple Mount. On the contested hilltop that has been the focus of so much of the unrest in Jerusalem, Muslims who see themselves as "defenders" of the sanctuary raise their voices in a call to God whenever Jewish visitors enter.

During the first Palestinian uprising, or intifada, in the late 1980s, Palestinians refused to work in Israeli companies. Many threw stones and firebombs at Israeli troops.

During the second intifada, which erupted in 2000, suicide bombers repeatedly blew up public places in Israel, such as cafes, night clubs and buses.

Israeli Charlotte Slopack-Goller didn't ride the bus for a few years then.

"Now I take the buses without thinking," she says.

Daniel Luria raps on the tall metal door of a home in Jerusalem's Silwan neighborhood, which is predominantly Palestinian. Luria is with the Jewish settler group Ateret Cohanim.

One rap and a small window pops open. Luria identifies himself. Soon the door opens too.

Inside sit armed security guards. Israeli police, on a break from patrolling the neighborhood, are there as well. A large screen shows multiple feeds from security cameras around the building. One Israeli flag flies over the roof. Another hangs from the railing of a small balcony.

When the Israelis and the Palestinians were trying to make peace back in the 1990s, one of the buzzwords was "normalization," the attempt by both sides to learn to live together.

But in these days of ceaseless friction, normalization has become something of a dirty word, particularly for Palestinians. Nearly 50 Palestinians from the West Bank encountered these bitter sentiments when they went to Israel for an unusual one-day trip last week.

There are plenty of real trees in Ramat HaNadiv. Oaks, pine and willow line the trails that circle through this nature park near Mount Carmel in northern Israel.

And planted in the gravel at the edge of one clearing is a new species, the solar powered tree.

Biologically speaking, of course, all trees are powered by the sun. But this is different.

Adi Asulin lives in a fabulous apartment on the top floor of a seven-story building in the Israeli town of Ra'anana, north of Tel Aviv. The entry hall is long and light. Windows open onto an enormous balcony, which wraps around three sides of her home. The decor is fresh and white.

"It's all made in China," Asulin says.

Not just made in China. Nearly everything — the floors, the lighting, the furniture — she bought in China on a 10-day shopping spree.

The day after Asulin and her husband got keys to the place, she got on a plane to Guangzhou, in southern China.

Gaza businessman Maher Abu Ghanema wants to rebuild his currency exchange shop in Gaza City, but because for years Israel has restricted cement supplies to only specific projects, it's been slow going.

"I need at least 3 tons of cement," says Ghanema, who after two weeks of effort found 1 ton. "Whatever we got is from the black market, and it costs four or five times higher than the original price. Plus, it's low-quality."

In a temporary warehouse in Israel's ultra-Orthodox town of Bnei Brak, Shaul Kalimi examines etrogs.

Last week in Gaza, half a million children went back to school after a summer of war. The academic year started late; among other things, authorities had to check buildings for unexploded ordnance and scrub schools that had been used to shelter hundreds of thousands of displaced families.

Among the students returning to class was 16-year-old Wala'a Abdelkas, a sophomore from Gaza's al-Bureij refugee camp.

From the hilly Israeli settlement of Gva'ot, on a peak in the occupied West Bank, you can see nearby hills that are part of a 1,000-acre parcel of land that Israel this week claimed as state land, an announcement that in the wake of the Gaza cease-fire is reigniting political sparks.

Palestinians say the land should be part of their future state. Israel plans to use it to build more settlements in the West Bank, where there are now more than 350,000 settlers.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

At a U.N.-run school where she was taking shelter from the fighting, Fulla Abed Rabou washed clothes in an outdoor sink.

City pipes deliver some water. But with thousands of people taking refuge at schools, much more has to be trucked in. Still, there is sometimes not enough, says Merit Hietanen, a U.N. employee managing water deliveries to the schools.

"One of the major issues is the tanks in the actual schools: The capacity is not big enough," she says. "So if we're tankering water, even if we manage to do it twice a day, they will run out."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Um Ahmed Ahmed almost ignored Eid this year.

The Muslim holiday, which began Monday, marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan. This year, it also marks three weeks since the current war in Gaza started.

"My plans were to have no plans for Eid," Ahmed says, pausing in the Firaz market area on a main street in Gaza City. "But my son kept bugging me, 'Mom, aren't you going to buy me something for Eid?' "

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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ERIC WESTERVELT, HOST:

During the current round of fighting in the Gaza Strip, Kareem, a 40-year-old Palestinian, witnessed a Hamas tunnel exposed.

"There is a chicken coop near us," said Kareem, who lives on the eastern edge of Gaza City, bordering on farmland. "We know it's a chicken coop."

But an Israeli attack, which destroyed the chicken house, revealed a tunnel heading east toward Israel, he said.

"We didn't know about it, but we faced a risk because of it," he said.

Secretary of State John Kerry is trying again to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, as casualty counts rise inexorably higher. NPR's Emily Harris is in Gaza, and she speaks to Audie Cornish about both sides' demands.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

I'm Robert Siegel. And we begin this hour with developments in Gaza, Israel and Cairo. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Egypt trying to forge a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

JOHN KERRY: The loss of lives and the humanitarian impact is really heartbreaking. And we're joining our international partners in reiterating our call for an immediate end to the fighting and a return to the cease-fire that was reached in 2012.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Cairo today for talks on ending the bloodshed in the Gaza Strip. Palestinian casualties have spiraled. More than 550 people have died in two weeks, mostly civilians according to health officials there. The Israeli military says 25 of its soldiers have been killed since it launched a ground invasion last week. The military says it's targeting tunnels militants use to attack Israel. But today, an Israeli strike hit a hospital in central Gaza, killing people in the intensive care unit.

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

Hamas militants fired rockets into Israel today, more rockets, after the Israeli government announced it was expanding ground operations in the Gaza Strip. Thousands of Palestinians continue to flee their homes. Early this morning, some, still wearing their pajamas, left in haste to take shelter in local schools. Those schools are already packed beyond capacity. NPR's Emily Harris reports on the increasingly dire situation.

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