News / Middle East

Israel's Gaza Offensive Continues

  • An Israeli rocket is fired into the northern Gaza Strip, July 17, 2014.
  • An Israeli tank maneuvers to take a position along the Israel-Gaza Border,July 17, 2014.
  • Palestinians watch as workers at the hospital morgue prepare the bodies of four members of the al-Astal family, who were killed by an Israeli airstrike, in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, July 17, 2014.
  • An Israeli tank takes its position along the Israel-Gaza border, July 17, 2014.
  • An Israeli soldier looks through the scope of his weapon outside the southern Gaza Strip, July 17, 2014.
  • A Palestinian girl walks with a toy that she salvaged from debris of the el-Yazje apartment building that was destroyed in an overnight Israeli missile strike, in Gaza City, July 17, 2014.
  • A TV screen shows the ongoing fighting between Israel and Gaza at the entrance to a coffee shop, in downtown, July, 2014, Tel Aviv, Israel.
  • A Palestinian man walks through a market in Gaza City, July 17, 2014.
  • Relatives of Dror Chanin, 37, who was fatally wounded when a mortar exploded near the his vehicle, cry during his funeral in Yahud, Israel, July 16, 2014.
  • A man walks past the el-Yazje family apartment building which was destroyed following an overnight Israeli missile strike, in Gaza City, July 17, 2014.

Thousands of Israeli troops backed by tanks, aircraft and navy ships continued what appears to be a limited advance into the Gaza Strip on Friday, the second day of a ground invasion into the Palestinian territory.

Palestinian medics say at least 21 Gaza residents have been killed since the start of the ground offensive, which has the stated aim of destroying tunnels militants have used to attempt attacks on Israeli targets.

The Israeli army reported its first fatality early Friday when a soldier was killed during clashes with fighters from Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip.

Overnight, the Israeli army said via Twitter that it killed 14 militants, destroyed 20 rocket launchers, carried out nine strikes on tunnels and hit a total of 103 "terror targets."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday he was prepared to "significantly widen" the offensive, which until now appears to be more limited than Israel's 2008 and 2009 operation when about 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed.

Targeted strikes

Yonah Jeremy Bob, a legal affairs correspondent at
The Jerusalem Post, told VOA the ground invasion seems to be restricted to targeted strikes by special forces in some urban neighborhoods. He says most of the Israeli troops are either massed in open spaces on the edge of Gaza or are starting to surround urban areas.

"The Israeli government is hoping that with this initial operation and by destroying a lot of the tunnels in open areas, destroying more targets in some of the urban settings, that if they bloody Hamas' nose up enough, they'll be willing to settle for cease fire terms closer to what Israel wants," said Bob.

Hamas in recent days has proposed a multi-year truce that includes demands such as the lifting of the long-standing Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip, opening air, sea and land entries into Gaza, and the release of Palestinian prisoners arrested by Israel last month in the West Bank.

Cease-fire talks

Israel has instead been pushing for an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire that calls for a "cessation of hostilities" in exchange for an increased movement of people and goods between Gaza and Israel. Hamas has rejected the plan, saying the offer amounts to a surrender.

In total, more than 260 Palestinians have died since July 8, when Israel expanded its airstrikes in Gaza in what it said was an attempt to stop rocket fire into Israel. The United Nations says about four out of five of those killed have been civilians, including dozens of children. Two Israelis have died.

Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, told VOA that the fighting has made conditions intolerable for the 1.8 million Palestinians who live in the impoverished Gaza Strip.

"The humanitarian plight of civilians in Gaza was desperate and has become absolutely catastrophic. Before the fighting, over 90 percent of the water was undrinkable, millions of liters of raw sewage flowed into the sea every day. Those dependent on UNRWA for food was well over 800,000. Then the war happened. 22,000 people have been displaced," said Gunness.

Bill Gallo Q&A with Chris Gunness, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine spokesman
Bill Gallo Q&A with Chris Gunness, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine spokesmani
|| 0:00:00

Mohammed Suliman, a 24-year-old Gaza City resident, tells VOA the airstrikes and shelling in his neighborhood are increasing. Early Friday, he said Israeli missiles struck an apartment building next door to his home at least five different times, killing a woman. He he says he had witnessed no militant activity in the area.

"I really feel like I could lose my life at any moment if I go outside," he said. "I've never been scared for my life like this. I really know that if I go out, it could be me being killed. There have been numerous cases of people who are killed merely for being outside of their home."

US, UN react

As the humanitarian situation worsens and the death toll mounts, world leaders have begun to strengthen their calls for restraint.

In a statement, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reaffirmed "Israel's right to defend itself against terrorist threats." But in a phone call, he told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the U.S. hopes Israel carries out a "precise operation to target tunnels," as Israeli has described the mission.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday he is "alarmed at the serious escalation" in Gaza. He called for "an immediate end to the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Hamas into Israel and Israeli retaliatory action." He also called on Israel to do "far more to stop civilian casualties."

Civilian deaths

Israel says it is already doing all it can to prevent civilian deaths, noting that it often warns Gazans to evacuate certain areas that it intends to bomb, either via fliers, phone calls or warning missiles.

Since last week, Israel has carried out airstrikes on more than 2,000 targets in Gaza.

Hamas has launched more than 1,000 rockets at Israel. Most of the rockets were either intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system or landed in open areas. One Israeli civilian has been killed.

  • A Palestinian man inspects a house which police said was damaged in Israeli shelling that killed two boys and a man from  the Nutaiz family, in Gaza City, July 18, 2014.
  • Patients are treated in Shifa hospital in Gaza City, July 18, 2014.
  • A Palestinian inspects the hole made by an Israeli strike at the damaged Inteiz family house in the Shajaiyeh neighborhood of Gaza City, northern Gaza Strip, July 18, 2014.
  • People gather around the bodies of three Palestinian teenage siblings from the Abu Musalam family, who medics said were shelled by an Israeli tank inside their house, during their funeral at a mosque in Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip, July 18, 2014.
  • Smokes rises following what witnesses said was an Israeli air strike in Gaza City, July 18, 2014.
  • An Israeli army reservist adjusts his gear in a staging area outside the Gaza Strip, July 18, 2014.
  • A Palestinian boy, who fled his house with his family following an Israeli ground offensive, sleeps as he stays at a United Nations-run school in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, July 18, 2014.
  • Israeli soldiers walk towards a staging area outside the Gaza Strip, July 18, 2014.
  • An Israeli mobile artillery unit fires towards the Gaza Strip, July 18, 2014.
  • Smoke rises after an Israeli strike over southern Gaza, July 18, 2014.
  • Israeli soldiers atop a tank outside the Gaza Strip, July 18, 2014.
  • An Israeli rocket is fired into the northern Gaza Strip, July 17, 2014.


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Comment Sorting
by: james danboyi from: jos
July 19, 2014 12:45 AM
Hamas will be first to provoked Israel but when the action begins he will be the loudest to cry for the world to intervene and blame Israel for his wrong doing.

by: moritz katz from: Germany
July 18, 2014 12:22 PM
Israel is a terrorist state as well as the root of nearly all problems in the Mideast it is high time their leaders are charged with war crimes.

by: A Concerned Human being from: London
July 18, 2014 12:14 PM
It is almost baffling that how could anybody endorse or condone what Israel is doing to Gaza. Moreover, find a justification by using false reports and/or lies. Forget power politics. For the sake of humanity how can someone get away with something like this? What is the world coming to when people turn away from the mere elements of what makes them human. God help those are oppressed and are weak. Amen.

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
July 18, 2014 9:29 AM
Hamas should stop firing rockets at Israel. Telling Israel to be precise in targeting tunnels is like saying Hamas is not playing tricks with the lives of those hit by Israeli airstrikes. Hamas is the aggressor and should stop firing the missiles if the war must stop. But Israel should not accept any other term but a routing of Hamas in the region to rid it of militant activities, that way ensuring peace for all the people in the region.

That is why Israel should not relent is prosecution of the ground offensive. There is need to postpone the evil day. If Hamas is dislodged, it will not just be to Israel's advantage but to the advantage of the entire region.
In Response

by: ali baba from: new york
July 18, 2014 10:15 AM
If Israeli rooted Hamas from Gaza ,There will be another terrorist organization will be emerged . It is like undesirable plant which removed from your farm. the rain come back and find the same plant grow again and again and again. in Egypt, they have different terrorist organization such as Muslim brotherhood ,Salf i, Takfier and Hagra. .Gamama el islamia and list has no end . Islam is the well that have water to feed undesirable terrorist organization

by: Jacob from: Israel
July 18, 2014 9:05 AM
If my country was under attack by a country that could destroy me and all that needed to be done for them to stop was surrender... I would. Israel doesn't want to control Gaza, we evacuated in 2005 because of that. We just don't want rockets being fired at us. We don't want snipers shooting at our cars and buses outside the border, we don't want sea mines floated up the coast towards our beaches. So if I was Hamas, I would surrender. The conflict comes at the cost of their lives in greater number than Israelis, anyone who valued the lives of their people would actually surrender. However they do not. Even in all of this, hundreds of trucks of supplies have been entering Gaza from the border crossings with Israel, because we value human life. They do not.

They also get much more warning of an attack than we do. We get 15-25 seconds. They get leaflets on the entire neighborhood. They get announcements on their TVs and SMS messages on their phones. And before the attacks they get warning shots to clear the area before an attack comes.

Civilian casualties happen in every war, but Israel tries to minimize it. Hamas tries to maximize it by putting their bases of operations in and near to schools, mosques, hospitals, and even UN facilities. They tell their people to act as human shields and they do all this knowing that we show regard and restraint when facing situations with possible civilian casualties. Hamas on the other hand does the opposite. If they could hit the densest possible civilian center in Israel they would. They would kill as many non combatants as they could.

We are two completely different groups of people with 2 completely different sets of morals. So what would you do in our shoes?

So, why doesn't Hamas surrender? They won't lose any land, Israel already evacuated Gaza 9 years ago. They won't lose any resources. Israel has been shipping in over 200 trucks of supplies to Gaza each day since this conflict began even while the crossing for the trucks is being attacked (Also... why?) They will stop losing lives of civilians. Oh I guess it is because their pride will be hurt. They are in a fight now where they cannot win. It's really impossible. Not even like one in a million... like zero chance. Prolonging the conflict will just bring more death for them...

by: Tawrid from: New Zealand
July 18, 2014 8:11 AM
Backup of US for Israel is a well-known conventional agreement. US policy is to create a unsustainable world, but good for itself so that can sell the weapons to Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Egypt and those african countries. Unfortunately, people behind these policy are just thinking to earn more and more money and to kill more people in the rest of the world. Good business policy temporarily. What a shame all of us need to go to grave as well as to embrace death. These culprits will be known as the world's heinous creatures. World need a new as well as better leader now. Wish China and Russia will take the place soon and hope won't be barbarian like US and Israel.
In Response

by: carlos from: America
July 18, 2014 12:40 PM
Really, do you know your history of the world at all? let's see Russia as the world leader for peace, hmmm, does gulags ring a bell about humanitarian treatment. China, let's look at their human rights violations, Does Tibet bring you
In Response

by: Ali Baba from: New york
July 18, 2014 8:55 AM
People can get weapons from different countries such as Russia , China, France, England .United state give free weapons to Egypt and Afghanistan The issue who is using the weapons. Is Arab and Muslim world have a desire to kill .the answer yes. Is Israel respond for Hamas attack aggressively , disproportionally , and excessively .the answer is yes. Is the terrorist activities have increased Significantly. the answer is yes. so weapons is a factor but other factors have to be addressed. such as ideology of Islam which it is manifesto for all terrorist activates. a money flow to buy weapons .the money come from Arab countries and Arab living in Europe and USA

by: Andrew Johnston from: Belfast Nothern Ireland
July 18, 2014 7:57 AM
Israel wont be happy until they have control of gaza they keep building new settlements outside there territory and the whole world looks on and does nothing shame on America and the European union please wake up and stop this travesty. Andrew.
In Response

by: Robin from: Philadelphia, PA, USA
July 18, 2014 1:14 PM
Andrew, I'm confused by your comment about Israel wanting to control Gaza and build settlements. Israel did, in fact, GIVE UP CONTROL of Gaza in 2005, after SHUTTING DOWN all the ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS there. It seems to me they have only gone in a few times over the years to quell the missle-lobbing and terrorist activities, and have come back out each time. Winkipedia is a good place to check the facts.
In Response

by: elizabeth davidson from: St Louis
July 18, 2014 12:26 PM
Hamas does not recognize Israel's right to exist. It is a terrorist organization. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, and Gazans elected Hamas to represent them. Gaza uses whatever resources they have to obtain missiles, rather than improve the lives of their "constituents".

The death toll is lopsided because Hamas uses that fact as a propaganda tool, to incite hatred against Israel. The BBC reported yesterday that a UN humanitarian organization had found missiles stored in a school. Netanyahu said, "We use missiles to protect our people and Hamas uses their people to protect their missiles."

by: Jill from: RSA
July 18, 2014 7:42 AM
I wonder how much "restraint" Ban Ki Moon and John Kerry would exercise if terrorists were firing rockets into their homes!
In Response

by: Mark from: USA
July 18, 2014 1:45 PM
We already have an answer to this:
- 2 buildings in U.S. taken down. Two countries taken over (2000's)
- Pearl Harbor attacked. Two nuclear bombs dropped to bring Japan into submission.

No other civilized country would do as little as Israel does. Only because it's Israel that world has a problem with self-defense.

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