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.

Israeli security forces are struggling to contain a recent wave of violence between Israelis and Palestinians that has erupted across Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, killing more than two dozen people in less than two weeks.

The government is deploying more security forces to areas of conflict, including Arab towns in Israel.

But shortly before this recent escalation began, city leaders in Jerusalem decided to try a new way to fight the separation and mistrust between Jews and Arabs, who constitute about 20 percent of all Israeli citizens.

Who is a Jew? It's an age-old question that in Israel been determined by government-selected rabbis in the decades since the country was established in 1948.

But now a group of Orthodox rabbis is challenging the state's control on determining who is and isn't Jewish — a status that affects many important aspects of life in Israel.

The parents of 7-year-old Lihi Goldstein weren't thinking about their daughter's future wedding when they adopted her as a toddler. Israelis Amit and Regina Goldstein picked the blue-eyed girl from a crowd of children at an orphanage in Ukraine.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.



Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.



Bishop Edwin Bass first set foot in the Holy Land last month, though he'd sung songs and preached stories of Zion much of his life. Head of the Church of God in Christ's Urban Initiatives program, which helps the church's 12,000 congregations across the U.S. deal with social problems, he called his weeklong sojourn one of the most moving experiences of his life.

"Just to have come and walked in the city of Jerusalem, to put the pieces together and understand the history of it, it's been a great experience."

What if a spoonful of ice cream could stretch out like melted mozzarella on a pizza?

"Mess!" you think. Or perhaps, "Fun!"

Ice cream with an elastic texture is a treat around the Levant. In Ramallah, two shops – with intertwined histories — cater to Palestinian cravings.

Rukab's is the original. It opened in 1941 as a cafe in the same spot where it still stands. But 59-year-old Hassan Rukab, son of the founder, says his family's ice cream business was operating much earlier.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.



A new United Nations assessment says the Gaza Strip could be uninhabitable in five years if the situation there doesn't improve. NPR's Emily Harris in Jerusalem reports the U.N. says things keep getting worse in Gaza.

When a Palestinian man in Israeli custody came close to death this week, doctors challenged an Israeli law.

Palestinian prisoner Mohammad Allan was in critical condition after he had refused food for two months, protesting his detention since last November in Israeli custody. Suspected of ties to a militant group, he was held with no charges, no lawyer and no accusations to face in court.

In the hot sun of a Jerusalem afternoon, kids wait for a fountain to turn on.

When water spouts into the air, 9-year-old Tzipora Baranas jumps right in. She's wearing black tights, a black, below-the-knee skirt and a long-sleeved black shirt.

"It's fun when the water spritzes up in my face," she says.

She is Orthodox Jewish and her outfit is in deference to religious modesty. She says she's not hot at all, despite the temperature hitting the 90s and the dark clothes covering all but her face and hands.

Of course, she is dripping wet at the moment.

What would make you move to Gaza?

The small strip of land along the Mediterranean coast is run by Hamas, the Islamist group Israel and the U.S. consider a terrorist organization. Earlier this year the World Bank said Gaza probably had the highest rate of unemployment in the world. It can be difficult to get into Gaza, and, if you are Palestinian, very difficult to get the necessary Israeli or Egyptian permission to leave.

Three wars between Israel and Hamas since 2008 killed more than 3,000 Gazans, the majority civilians.

Ora Mor Yosef, a disabled Israeli woman, challenged her country's rules about surrogate parenting and lost the baby.

Single and in her 30s, her efforts began by asking her traditional Jewish family what they thought.

"I wanted to hear how they would feel if I were a single parent," Mor Yosef says. "To my joy they agreed, and gave their blessing."

The next step was getting pregnant. But Mor Yosef has progressive muscular dystrophy and doctors advised her against using a sperm donor and carrying a child herself.

In a small town perched on a steep mountain in northern Israel, Ali Shalalha has managed a remarkable achievement.

Fifteen years ago, only 12 percent of seniors at Beit Jann Comprehensive School passed the exams that are the prerequisite for higher education in Israel. Last year, and the year before, every single senior passed.

Beit Jann ranks second now in the high school graduation exams, known as bagrut, for all of Israel. This year, Shalalha — the school's principal — is hoping for first.

A dozen internationally acclaimed photographers were set loose in Israel and the West Bank. Most had never been in either place before. The aim was to try to see anew a part of the world that's been thoroughly photographed, long mythologized and often fought over.

Recycling sewage water has helped free Israel, a desert country, from depending on rain.

Treated sewage water provides close to a quarter of Israel's demand for water, right behind desalination, the other major process that has eased Israel's fear of drought.

But making that water — from toilets, showers, and factories — clean enough to use is challenging.

In the waiting room of a courthouse in the West Bank city of Ramallah last week, a clerk called defendants to pick up their files while loudspeaker announcements blared courtroom assignments.

A skinny young man in jeans and a blue T-shirt waited to hear his name. Ayman Mahareeq, who just turned 24, faced charges of insulting officials based on comments he'd posted on Facebook.

"One of my posts was about how Palestinian security forces act whenever Israeli forces enter the West Bank," Mahareeq says. "They withdraw and hide."

This is a story about Middle East cooperation that seems to defy all the rules.

Israel's long-standing policy has been to isolate Hamas, the Islamist group that dominates the Gaza Strip. And Israel has long accused Qatar of financing Hamas, including providing money used for rockets fired into Israel during last summer's war.

So why, then, would Israel permit a Qatari official to visit Gaza and spend tens of millions of dollars in the coastal territory?

Taking the salt out of seawater helped Israel move from the constant threat of drought to a plentiful supply of water, but Israel has learned that desalination is not the only answer.

Ben-Gurion University's Institute for Water Research is deep in Israel's Negev desert and away from the sea. Prof. Jack Gilron, head of the Department of Desalination and Water Treatment, and other researchers here test concepts in desalination to see if they might hold promise for industrial development.

During the upheaval of last year's war between Hamas and Israel, at least 23 Gazans were deliberately killed by their fellow Palestinians, according to a report out this week from Amnesty International.

Amnesty blames the killings on Hamas, which runs Gaza. It says those killed were accused of being collaborators — spies for Israel — and many were awaiting trial.

Haneen Radi learned to run by walking.

"I used to walk," says the 36-year-old mother of four. "I saw people running and said, I'll try that."

Radi took off. In the decade since then she's finished eight marathons, and she now coaches a girls' running club with 80 members.

"I'm another person when running," Radi says. "I'm happy, I'm smiling."

A few months ago, Radi decided to organize a marathon in Tira, her hometown in northern Israel.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has moved to the soccer field. Next week, at the annual meeting of FIFA — the international body governing football — its 209 members are scheduled to vote on a proposal to suspend Israel from international play.

Palestinian soccer officials put the proposal on FIFA's agenda, saying Israeli policies hurt Palestinian players and the sport's development and break FIFA's own rules.

By the end of July during last summer's war in the Gaza Strip, more than 3,000 Palestinians crowded into a United Nations-run elementary school in Jabaliya, a northern Gaza town. They had moved there for temporary shelter after the Israeli military warned them to leave their homes.

An hour before dawn on July 30, explosions shook the classrooms and the courtyard, all packed with people.

Mahmoud Jaser was camped outside with his sons.

"We were sleeping when the attack started. As we woke up, it got worse," he said.

Among the faces in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new right-wing government, one is drawing particular attention: Ayelet Shaked, the new justice minister.

Shaked is secular, lives in liberal Tel Aviv, and has a background in the high-tech industry. Ari Soffer, the managing editor of Israel National News, calls her a patriot.

Early one morning a couple of weeks ago, rheumatologist Anas Muhana got into his 2008 tan Mercedes jeep, turned on the ignition and drove from his home in Ramallah to his work at Al-Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem.

It was the first time he had been allowed to do this in 15 years.

Muhana is Palestinian. His car has a green and white Palestinian license plate. And in 2000, at the start of the second intifada, Israel stopped allowing cars with Palestinian plates to cross checkpoints from the West Bank.

What happened to Tesfai Kidane?

The Eritrean migrant came to a tragic end in Libya at the hands of the Islamic State, but his family isn't sure what path he took to get there or exactly where he was headed. At a time when unstable states are creating floods of refugees in the Middle East and North Africa, Kidane's tale is just one of many filled with random twists and turns and unexpected outcomes.

More than 60 Israeli soldiers who took part in last summer's war in Gaza have offered firsthand combat stories. Many said they felt their orders went too far, leading to indiscriminate fire and Palestinian civilian deaths.

The sperm came from Israel. It was frozen and flown to Thailand, where a South African egg donor awaited. After the egg was fertilized, the embryo traveled to Nepal and was implanted in the Indian woman who agreed to serve as the surrogate mother.

And roughly nine months later, there was a big, bouncing earthquake.

The world of international surrogacy is ... pretty complicated.

High on a West Bank hilltop, the extended Dissi family gathered on a recent weekend for a day out in the Palestinian countryside.

Aunts, uncles and cousins came to see the half-built weekend home of Taysier Dissi, an electrician and father of three. The concrete-block shell, with windows set and stairs roughed in, is placed just right for the view.

This will be the family's getaway from their home in the cramped confines of Jerusalem's often tense Old City. Dissi paid about $30,000 for one-third of an acre here, bought from a Palestinian-Canadian company, UCI.

The male milk-giving goat of Gaza has been turned into meat.

Owner Jaser Abu Said sold the goat for the 400 Jordanian dinars (close to $600) that he and his business partner spent on it. He found a buyer willing to slaughter the goat for meat. And he stuck around to witness the goat's demise personally, along with representatives from the Gaza government.

Why government officials at a goat slaughtering — which happens pretty frequently in Gaza?

In Gaza, reconstruction is happening, but slowly. Months after the war between Israel and Hamas, the main United Nations organization tracking progress, UNRWA, says fewer than half the homes it has assessed as "damaged" have been repaired, and not one of the over 9,000 totally destroyed homes has been rebuilt.

Facing few choices, some families have decided to live in what's left of their bombed out homes.

The goat trade is a good business in Gaza. Every couple of weeks, Abdel Rahman and his business partner, Jaser Abu Said, buy half a dozen young goats imported from Israel and sell them for meat.

Last time, they got something unusual. Of the five goats they bought, for about $600 each, one was a hermaphrodite.

By all appearances, it was male, with a large build and visible male sex organs. But it also had udders. And gave milk.