News / Middle East

Israel, Gaza Continue Rocket Exchanges as Israel Readies Ground Forces

Israeli soldiers with armored vehicles gather in a staging ground near the border with Gaza Strip, southern Israel, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012.
Israeli soldiers with armored vehicles gather in a staging ground near the border with Gaza Strip, southern Israel, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012.
VOA News
Aerial volleys between Israel and Hamas-led Gaza continued Friday with one rocket landing in a field outside Jerusalem.

Israel responded by calling up additional military reserves and shutting down the main roads around the Gaza Strip.

Air raid sirens wailed through Jerusalem, but Israeli officials said there were no injuries or damage. A statement from Hamas claimed responsibility.

Palestinian and Arab leaders are decrying Israel's offensive.

Palestinians marched through the streets of Gaza City shouting their defiance, while, from the West Bank, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the Palestinian people.

  • Smoke billows from the site of an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, November 21, 2012.
  • A Palestinian man reacts as flames and smoke rise from a smuggling tunnel after an Israeli strike along the border between Egypt and Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, November 21, 2012.
  • Israelis look at a blown up bus at the site of a bombing in Tel Aviv, Israel, November 21, 2012.
  • Israeli rescue workers and paramedics carry a wounded person from the site of a bombing in Tel Aviv, Israel, November 21, 2012.
  • Palestinian children stand in rubble after an Israeli strike on a house in Gaza City, November 20, 2012.
  • An Israeli soldier stands on a tank at a staging area near the Israel-Gaza Strip Border, November 20, 2012.
  • A Palestinian inspects the damage to a soccer stadium after an Israeli air strike in Gaza City, November 19, 2012.
  • Smoke and fire rise up from an explosion in Gaza City, November 19, 2012.
  • A Palestinian man waves the national flag during a protest against Israel's operations in Gaza Strip, outside Ofer, an Israeli military prison near the city of Ramallah, November 18, 2012.
  • An Israeli police officer gestures in front of a burning car after a rocket fired by Palestinian militants in Gaza landed in the southern city of Ashkelon, November 18, 2012. (Reuters)
  • Members of the Palestinian Civil Defense help a survivor after he was pulled out from under the rubble of his destroyed house after an Israeli air strike in Gaza City, November 18, 2012.
  • An Iron Dome launcher fires an interceptor rocket in the southern city of Ashdod, Israel, November 16, 2012.
  • A Palestinian man kisses the body of one of his children during their funeral in the northern Gaza Strip, November 18, 2012.
  • An Israeli soldier runs with his weapon during a drill simulating a possible ground invasion into the Gaza Strip, at a base south of the West Bank city of Hebron, November 17, 2012.

Abbas urged all Palestinians to put aside their differences and unite, though he said he had been unable to contact Hamas leaders.

Israel's Iron Dome missile interception system continued to fire away on Friday, destroying more than 130 rockets. But Israeli Defense Forces [IDF] said more than 330 rockets from Gaza have landed in Israel since Wednesday. Israel also has been massing tanks along the border with Gaza.  

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday there will be no letdown in Israel's resolve.

"We are of course operating powerfully against the launch of rockets to central Israel and southern Israel. We are prepared, if needed, to broaden the operation in a significant way,'' said Netanyahu.

Israel said that since Wednesday it has targeted 450 of what it called terrorist sites in Gaza.

The two sides have exchanged hundreds of aerial bombardments, leaving three Israelis and at least 20 Palestinians dead.

Egypt said Friday that it hoped to help pave the way for an end to hostilities.

Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil visited Gaza, promising Egypt "will make every effort and make sacrifices to stop this aggression and to achieve a truce."

Back in Cairo, however, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi lashed out at what he called the Israeli aggression.

"We see what is happening in Gaza, in terms of aggression and the killing of men, women and children, and blood being shed. This is a very dangerous matter," said Morsi. "And this unacceptable aggression on human beings, on men and women, and this is an issue. I warn them again, and that I confirm again, for those who are carrying out the aggression - that they will never rule over the people of Gaza. We will not leave Gaza on its own. We will not leave Gaza on its own.''

Despite Morsi's harsh words, U.S. President Barack Obama telephoned the Egyptian president Friday to discuss the situation and commend Egypt's efforts to defuse the tensions.

Obama also spoke with Netanyahu. The White House said Netanyahu thanked the United States for helping Israel develop a missile defense system called the Iron Dome.  The prime minister said the system has knocked out hundreds of rockets, saving countless Israeli lives.

Israeli Defense Forces spokesman Eytan Buchman said that Israel has put a significant dent in Hamas' ability to strike. But he said the fact that Palestinian rockets are still flying means that not enough has been done and that Israel is ready to expand its operations in Gaza.

"We've reached a point where Hamas is becoming increasingly brazen. They are managing with extensive Iranian assistance to get very advanced weapons, and at some point you have to stop with the restraint and you have to move in and score decisively enough to re-energize the deterrence and change the rules of the game so they know that it's not acceptable," said Buchman. "The fact that we’ve shown restraint for so many years shouldn't mean, ‘Hey, why are you attacking now?’ it should mean, ‘Why didn’t you do this earlier?’  We didn’t do this earlier because the Middle East is a volatile  area. And we were trying to deal with the situation in other ways. At this point, after 800 rockets that were fired this year, it just became time to change the situation."

Palestinian representatives have so far not replied to VOA's request for a comment.

Meanwhile, tensions have boiled over into Jerusalem, where Muslim Palestinian worshippers clashed with Israeli police outside of some of Islam's holy sites.  

Anger over the Israeli air assault have also sparked protests in Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan, while pro-Israel and pro-Palestinians supporters have faced off in protests in the United States.

Protests also erupted in Turkey, where Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Israeli leaders of carrying out a pre-election stunt.

"Before this election they [Israel] shot these innocent people in Gaza for reasons they fabricated,'' said Erdogan.

Meanwhile, civilians on both sides of the conflict are being urged to take precautions while emergency supplies are being rushed to affected areas. On Friday, trucks of supplies crossed into Gaza from Egypt.

Saif Allah Imam is with the Egyptian Doctor's Syndicate, which is collaborating with the Egyptian Red Crescent.

"We brought with us five loaded trucks, plus two other truck loads, which we already delivered. As well as the delegation which includes the Egyptian Health delegation of the Ministry of Health and the Syndicate for Egyptian doctors,'' said Imam.

Concern in Israel also spread after two Palestinian rocket attacks hit outside Israel's economic capital of Tel Aviv.

"First I heard the siren. Then I heard the explosive. In the Water. In the water. I saw the water fly in the air,'' said one unidentified male resident who witnessed the rockets attacks.

Palestinian militants issued a statement claiming responsibility for at least one of the attacks, saying they had fired Iranian-made rockets.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said the attacks show why Israel has no choice but to use its military to retaliate.
 
"The attempt last night by the terrorists in Gaza to launch rockets on Tel Aviv only underscores the danger that the Israeli public faces in this formidable military machine in Gaza," said Regev. "And what the Israeli government is doing today, what the action that we are taking is designed to do, is to remove that threat, to free the Israeli people from this constant threat of rocket launches from the Gaza Strip."  

Israel began its military offensive Wednesday using a missile strike to kill the top military commander of Hamas in Gaza. Israel dropped leaflets warning Gazans to stay away from buildings and locations run by the military wing of Hamas.

Hamas vowed revenge and warned that Israel had opened up what it calls "the gates of hell."  

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority has repeated its call for the U.N. Security Council to take action to end Israeli air raids on Gaza. On Friday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon would visit in two to three days.

The head of the secret service in Gaza, Tawfeek Tirawi, has accused Israel of war crimes.

Israel/Gaza Timeline
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by: musawi melake from: -
November 16, 2012 5:20 PM
This seems to be a prelude to an all out attack on Iran to demolish the country into stone-age state, as some American and Jewish sources say, for if Hamas and Hizbulla are in place, their arsenal would be a threat to the Jews. They may not be able to engage all the three, so they are trying to finish one by one, and it would be naive of Hizbulla if they stay away from fighting if and when the Jews enter Gaza. Hizbulla should initiate it's own actions to deliver a fatal blow to the Jews. It's the same mistake by Gaddafi and Assad who allowed the West to isolate and fight one at a time, the same old strategy they used to colonize the world a few centuries ago . There is a saying "no remnants of fire and enemies should bot be left alone".

by: Darling Mar from: UK
November 16, 2012 4:54 PM
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood is about the block the Sues Canal... and that will demonstrate the American folly on 1958... where the French Israel and the UK have tried to retain a Western influence over huge engineering project that the West had built and the Egyptian stole, but were betrayed by a stupid policy administration... now we are about to see and feel what an Islamic theocratic "democracy" looks like...

by: Raymond Marine from: San Antonio
November 16, 2012 2:38 PM
Jerusalem Will Never Be The Capital Of The Palestinian People.

by: jason from: antigua
November 16, 2012 2:18 PM
Can you imagine the Hamas tribe getting its hands on Iran nuclear tipped armaments? The ease with which it acquires the devil's weaponry is only a foreshadowing of what could come later.

by: Arielle
November 16, 2012 2:06 PM
This is ridiculous. A proposed truce that involves Israel giving up its capital as the only path to peace.

by: bear from: beargraduate
November 16, 2012 2:06 PM
ridiculous??? palestine state with jerusalem as capital. Will never happen until Jesus comes

by: Daniel from: California, US
November 16, 2012 1:42 PM
Joe Walsh, MPP, former US Representative (R-IL), wrote in his May 3, 2012 article "Myth of a Two-State Solution" in the Washington Times:
"It has been 64 years since the United Nations General Assembly approved the Partition Plan for Palestine and the struggle to implement a 'two-state solution' began. Today, we are no closer to that end. That reminds me of the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. By that definition, everyone who continues to cling to the delusion of a two-state solution is insane. There is no such thing as a two-state solution. It cannot work, it has not worked, and it will not work...

The two-state solution can never work when one of the domains, the Palestinian state, does not even acknowledge the other state’s (Israel‘s) right to exist and has as its entire purpose in life wiping Israel off the face of the earth. Never will peace come when one side possesses such hate and routinely expresses that hate through violence and blood. It is time to let go of the two-state-solution insanity..."

The only way to end this is to have the Arab nations recognize Israel’s legitimacy as a nation, and enforce a demilitarized Palestine. As long as there are militants plotting attacks on Israel, Israel will attack them. If the rocket attacks on Israel do not stop soon Israel will be forced to retake Palestine, and the US will support there decision.

by: john2397 from: IUSA
November 16, 2012 1:16 PM
The Palestinians issue is almost 60+ years old and has been on the fore front because of the foreign policy of the super power USA. if America becomes just, fair, honest broker in this issue, the problem can be resolved but if Obama continue to be a Obama of the first term, no solution is on horizon. The two-state solution is almost dead by the continuous settlements; now the only solution left is one uniform state with equal rights to all, similar to the USA and many democratic nations.

by: ali baba from: new byork
November 16, 2012 10:16 AM
other war in middle east will put the last nail of egyptian coffen . the ecnomic crisis is getting worst. the muslim brotherhood want change the egyptian law to shria law.and they want involve in hamas /isreal conflict
the country which named is egypt is dead

by: Majestic Stuff from: Nigeria
November 16, 2012 10:01 AM
It's unfortunate that militants are the leaders of the Palestine. They are to blame for whatever happens there. Hamas should allow Israel stay and stop firing rockets into Israel for peace to reign in Gaza. The world leaders including Egypt should rise up and condemn the atrocities of hamas on Israel. They should know that hamas started the fight by first firing rockets into Israel. There can never be peace in Gaza if hamas and their militancy against Israel is not condemned.
In Response

by: Gackles from: US
November 16, 2012 2:06 PM
@naksuthin

- The killing of the Hamas commander was not the beginning of this conflict. The US is only involved diplomatically and is part of the Quartet that mediates negotions.
In Response

by: naksuthin is dumb
November 16, 2012 2:01 PM
can you not read? the targeted airstrike was in response to the hundreds of rockets that have been coming out of gaza over the past week, with 1-2 landing near the heavily civilian populated tel aviv. Hamas had escalated their rocket fire dramatically in order to provoke this one.
In Response

by: Nick from: Texas, USA
November 16, 2012 2:00 PM
Saying that Israel began it's military offensive on Wednesday does not mean that "Israel started this one" - the 750+ rockets fired into Israel from Gaza since January is what "started this one".

Oh I forgot - arabs are allowed to kill Jews but Jews are not allowed to defend themselves. Never mind...
In Response

by: naksuthin
November 16, 2012 10:14 AM
According to the article and to all other accounts, Israel started this one: "Israel began its military offensive Wednesday using a missile strike to kill the top military commander of Hamas in Gaza. Israel dropped leaflets warning Gazans to stay away from buildings and locations run by the military wing of Hamas."

If you are going to take the time to write, print and drop leaflets warning of a coming attack....Isreal is obviously provoking this attack, knowing full well that a rocket response by Hamas was a distinct possibility.
These two groups have been at each other's throats for over 50 years.
It's time they both grew up and started acting in the interest of peace rather than trying to settle the score.
Frankly I am getting tired of the US being constantly dragged into this conflict.
If these two children can't sit down and find a solution and insist on using force to settle their disputes, I say let them bomb each other into oblivion
The US should stay out of it and let these two duke it out for the next 100 years.
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