News / Middle East

    Israel, Hamas Trade Blows in 4th Day of Warfare

    • Smoke rises after an Israeli strike in Gaza City, July 11, 2014.
    • Palestinians carry belongings in a house after it was hit by an Israeli missile strike in Gaza City, July 11, 2014.
    • Lebanese army personnel inspect the remains of a shell suspected of having been launched from Lebanon to Israel, near the village of El Mari in southern Lebanon July 11, 2014.
    • Israeli fire-fighters extinguish a fire that broke out after a rocket hit a gas station in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod, July 11, 2014.
    • Destroyed cars are removed from a gas station that was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip in the city of Ashdod, Israel, July 11, 2014.
    • An Israeli Apache helicopter fires flares over the Israeli-Gaza border as seen from the southern town of Sderot, Israel, July 11, 2014.
    • Smoke rises from buildings following what witnesses said was an Israeli air strike, as Palestinians search for victims under the rubble of a house that police said was destroyed in another Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, July 11, 2
    • Palestinians look at the damage of a destroyed house where five members of the Ghannam family were killed in an Israeli missile strike in Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, July 11, 2014.
    • Palestinians search the rubble of a destroyed house where five members of the Ghannam family were killed in an Israeli missile strike in Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, July 11, 2014.
    • Israeli police explosive experts survey the scene at a gas station after it was hit by a rocket in the southern city of Ashdod, Israel, July 11, 2014.
    • A man surveys the damaged at a petrol station that was hit by a rocket in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod, July 11, 2014.
    • Smoke and flames are seen following what witnesses said was an Israeli air strike in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, July 11, 2014.
    VOA News

    Fighting intensified as Israel continued its Gaza offensive for a fourth day Friday, with Palestinian militants continuing rocket attacks on the Jewish state and rocket fire coming from Lebanon for the first time.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he will not bow to international pressure to stop the military campaign.

    Netanyahu said Friday no pressure would prevent Israel from combating "terrorists" that call for Israel's destruction. Other Israeli politicians backed him up.

    "If we are able to stop [the rocket barrage] from the air and Hamas understands the price is too big - there will be no need in ground invasion. But if Israel, for its own reasons, seeks an escalation - we’ll have to conduct the ground operation,” said Ze’ev Elkin, chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs Committee.

    A rocket launched from Lebanon into northern Israel early Friday drew retaliatory artillery fire from Israeli troops, raising fears of a broader regional conflict.   

    Map of Israel, Gaza and the West BankMap of Israel, Gaza and the West Bank
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    Map of Israel, Gaza and the West Bank
    Map of Israel, Gaza and the West Bank

    The rocket, launched around 6 a.m. local time, struck an open area near Metula at Israel's northernmost tip without causing casualties or damage, the AFP news agency reported.

    "It wasn’t fired by Hezbollah - Israel’s main threat in Lebanon - but by a person who was apprehended by the Lebanese military while the rockets were still [being] launched. From time to time Palestinian organizations in Lebanon make such attempts," Elkin said in an interview with VOA's Russian service.

    Israeli troops responded by firing about 25 artillery shells on southern Lebanon, the Associated Press reported.   

    Lebanese army personnel inspect the remains of a shell suspected of having been launched from Lebanon to Israel, near the village of El Mari in southern Lebanon July 11, 2014.Lebanese army personnel inspect the remains of a shell suspected of having been launched from Lebanon to Israel, near the village of El Mari in southern Lebanon July 11, 2014.
    x
    Lebanese army personnel inspect the remains of a shell suspected of having been launched from Lebanon to Israel, near the village of El Mari in southern Lebanon July 11, 2014.
    Lebanese army personnel inspect the remains of a shell suspected of having been launched from Lebanon to Israel, near the village of El Mari in southern Lebanon July 11, 2014.

    Israel filed a complaint with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, which monitors the countries' border, AFP reported. 

    Hamas isues warning

    Also Friday, Hamas warned airlines against using Tel Aviv's international airport, which has maintained flights desipite the aerial offensive launched Tuesday by Israel.

    “The armed wing of the Hamas movement has decided to respond  to the Israeli aggression, and we warn you against carrying out flights to Ben-Gurion airport, which will be one of our targets today because it also hosts a military air base,'' the Islamist group's Izz el-Deen al-Qassam  Brigades said in a statement, Reuters reported.

    The group, saying it wanted to avoid injuries to passengers, had fired at least one rocket toward the airport Friday.

    The airport quieted for about 10 minutes after a siren sounded because of a general alert in the Tel Aviv area, Israel’s Airports Authority spokesman told Reuters.

    Intense air attacks

    Israeli warplanes have launched more than 1,000 strikes since Tuesday.

    The military said it hit targets belonging to the ruling Islamic militant group Hamas, including long-range rocket launchers, government facilities, smuggling tunnels and training camps.

    The Israeli military said its air strikes had hit another 320 Hamas targets Thursday, focusing on underground tunnel networks and rocket-launching sites but also hitting homes.

    Israel has reported no fatalities, while Palestinian officials say the death toll from Israel's Gaza military offensive has risen above 100, including women and children.

    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has accused Israel of "genocide" in the attacks.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel has delivered a severe blow to Hamas and other terrorist groups, and he promised the operation would inflict even more damage. The offensive will unfold in stages, the prime minister said, hinting at a possible ground operation.

    Israel has deployed tanks and artillery along the Gaza border and has called up at least 20,000 reservists.

    Hamas has been hitting back with rocket salvoes. On Friday, a rocket slammed into a gas station in Israel’s southern port city of Ashdod near Gaza, causing a massive explosion. Three Israelis were injured, one seriously.

    Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum vowed that the group would reach every house and military facility in Israel and force three million Israelis into bomb shelters.

    Hamas doesn’t seem interested in a political solution, Elkin said.

    "Currently they are in total international isolation, they've even lost the support of their traditional ally, Egypt. They don’t have money for the functioning of their regime in Gaza, and maybe this escalation is their attempt to divert attention from their failure," he said.

    Diplomacy urged

    The ongoing strife prompted U.S. President Barack Obama to phone Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Thursday to express concern and offer help in negotiating a resolution to the crisis.

    "The United States remains prepared to facilitate a cessation of hostilities, including a return to the November 2012 cease-fire agreement," the White House said Obama told Netanyahu, according to Reuters news agency. The president also repeated his condemnation of Hamas rocket attacks on Israel and reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend itself.

    The White House says it is willing to turn to some of its Middle East allies to help bring an end to the violence between Israel and the Palestinians.

    Spokesman Josh Earnest said Friday the U.S. has a number of relationships it is willing to leverage.

    Earnest also condemned rocket attacks on Israel Friday from Lebanon. He reaffirmed Israel's right to defend itself while again appealing to all sides to protect civilian lives and restore calm.

    U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke via telephone Friday with Israeli Minister of Defense, Moshe "Boogie" Ya'alon. Minister Ya'alon updated Secretary Hagel on the events unfolding in Israel and Gaza. 

    As Israeli warplanes relentlessly attacked hundreds of Hamas targets in Gaza Thursday, Netanyahu told a parliamentary committee that a cease-fire is "not even on the agenda."

    Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry phoned Egypt’s foreign secretary to ask that the country exert its influence in defusing the situation, Reuters reported. Egypt played a critical role in mediating a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in 2012. The U.S. government refuses to negotiate directly with Hamas, which Washington considers a terrorist organization.

    Kerry “has been reaching out to countries in the region, including Qatar, including Egypt," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, according to Reuters. "… Any country in the region that can play a role in bringing an end to the rocket fire from Hamas, we're certainly going to be engaged with."

    United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon called Thursday for an immediate cease-fire in the Israeli conflict with Hamas militants in Gaza, but neither of the warring sides showed any hint of stopping its attacks.

    The U.N. secretary-general told an emergency meeting of the Security Council that Israel and Hamas "must exercise maximum restraint" to end the fighting.

    Violence in the region has escalated since the killing of three Jewish students last month and the murder of a Palestinian teen in a suspected revenge attack.

    VOA's Robert Berger contributed to this story.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 3
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    by: RICHARD ANDERSON from: NICARAGUA
    July 13, 2014 1:55 AM
    israel should continue it's air strikes on terrarists because they are taking them selves to be powerful so let them know that they are weak on israel

    by: Wulfe N. Straat from: Los Angeles, CA
    July 12, 2014 3:06 PM
    How can you call this "warfare"? It's a turkey shoot.

    If the United States won't help the Palestinians survive another onslaught by the rapacious Israelis, the PRC needs to step up its game plan in the name of World Peace. China needs to deploy PLA peacekeepers (not Chinese UN peacekeepers) to stop the Israeli military from flying American helicopters into the Gaza Strip. China needs to declare a "no-fly zone" over Gaza, plain and simple. After that, watch the Arabs all across the Middle East, Northern Africa and the South China Sea flock to China's standard and away from the US-Japan alliance.

    Be an honest broker of peace by stopping the Israelis from murdering innocent women and children in Palestine, and you will have taken a giant step in gaining "soft power" across the globe. In addition to a no-fly zone, the PLA peacekeepers should stop all American-built tanks and bulldozers from rampaging through Gaza, as well as blockade the border to keep Israeli ground troops out. As you may remember from these periodic incursions into Gaza, Israeli troops regard these forays as turkey shoots, with over a thousand Palestinian deaths in 2009 and only 13 Israelis killed, mostly through friendly fire, meaning the Israelis killed their own. In other words, the Palestinians are unarmed, unable to defend themselves against the invading Israelis; consequently, this is nothing short of murder.

    This is how you enforce the peace and gain prestige. This is not a belligerent action by the PRC against the US, but it is filling a gap that the US is unable to fill because our senators and representatives are paid employees of Israel. This slaughter is not the will of the American people, and we are powerless to stop the carnage, which has already taken the lives of more than a hundred Palestinians, many of them innocent women and children. As such, this is the time and the place for the PRC to establish a meaningful presence as an superpower committed to World Peace...in the absence of US resolve for the same.
    In Response

    by: 1worldnow from: Earth
    July 12, 2014 9:47 PM
    Let's me see........hmmmmm.......The US.......Chinese PLA......hmmmm......interesting! Oh, and US-Japan alliance. Innocent lives, Israeli murderers.......hmmmmm? So the US arming and supplying the same people who call themselves the ISIL, is because we are helping Israel????? hmmmmmm......interesting. ISIL, the Sunni organization that is getting stronger everyday, who longs for the destruction of Israel, because we are helping Israel? Still, interesting point of view. Oh, and World Peace. Forgot you mentioned that. Palestinians who have committed the same evils as Israel......hmmmmm......you have an intersting point of view.

    Oh, and I love the 'stop the carnage' point you made. After all, you are advocating MORE CARNAGE!!!!!! Unarmed and defenseless Palestinians? Are they borrowing the 1,000's of missiles launched into Israel, from the Israelis? Can you help clear this up????

    by: pwajk from: kashmir
    July 12, 2014 12:24 PM
    stop killing innocents,it is a type of miltancy from israil.

    by: Til Fama from: Washington, D.C.
    July 12, 2014 8:49 AM
    U.N. High Commissioner Navi Pillay seems biased against Israel. Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, as long as a party to a conflict targets combatants it may destroy a home or any other structure, even if there are civilians inside. Israel has actually exceeded this legal standard by using text messages, phone calls and leaflets to warn Gaza civilians of which homes will be targeted for attacks.

    by: Igor from: Russia
    July 12, 2014 5:21 AM
    No word can be used to justify the mass killing of innocent civilians. That terrorizing activities must be stop by any means,either by diplomacy or force
    In Response

    by: meanbill from: USA
    July 13, 2014 1:58 PM
    Hey Igor, You do mean the Ukrainian government atrocities, in killing innocents, don't you? ..... stopped by diplomacy or by force of arms? ..... REALLY?
    In Response

    by: 1worldnow from: Earth
    July 12, 2014 9:49 PM
    So far, this is the best comment made in this forum!!!!!! This is exactly what we all should be demanding from all these so-called world leaders! Right on, Igor!

    by: Nas from: Usa
    July 12, 2014 5:10 AM
    The off is no better than Hamas because when they kill women and children it doesn't bother them for a second

    by: Jason Green from: Australia
    July 12, 2014 4:54 AM
    "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday no outside pressure will stop Israel from fighting terrorists who call for the Jewish state's destruction."

    As opposed to the terrorists who put to *action* the destruction of the palestinian state. A hell of a lot worse than talking about it in my books. The israelis have the palestinian state under siege, and we're supposed to believe they are the victims?

    by: Anthonybellchambers from: LondonUK
    July 12, 2014 4:52 AM
    This is NOT a war about Palestinian rockets - this is a war about illegal settlements, stolen land and 500,000 Israeli settlers.
    In Response

    by: Not Again from: Canada
    July 13, 2014 1:18 PM
    Interesting comment comming from London, the motherland of all the big Empires. All Empires are the ones that drew up the dastardly imperial administrative borders... I guees they are setting the example for Israel to follow, they are returning Gibraltar to Spain, the Falklads (Malvinas) to Argentina, Diego Garcia....Scottland.... it is all falling into perspective; the difference is that Jews are the ancestral people of the Jewish state, of Israel.
    In Response

    by: 1worldnow from: Earth
    July 12, 2014 9:55 PM
    That's rich, coming from a Brit!!! Illegal settlements! Land stolen! I love British humor! Oh, I mean British hypocrisy! Sorry, got them confused. The same land that the Brits stole from the Arabs. What was India, something that the Brits won in a card game? hehe, so funny!
    It's tea time! Oh, and time to watch that OH SO MANLY sport of Cricket, hehe.

    by: Omar T from: Qatar
    July 12, 2014 4:45 AM
    Hamas has the sheer right to respond back to Israeli brutality, air raids, killing of children, old women, elderly and innocent people. Actually, Hamas has to reply all the time until it sweeps Israel and kill all Jews since Palestine is just for Palestinians. Jews originally came from Poland, Germany, Russia, Europe, America and other places in the world where they have drawn the emotions of the world and convinced them about the fabrication of the holocaust which brought attention to Jews and urged the British to allow them to infiltrate Palestine and settle there claiming that Palestine (between all Arab community, Muslims and NEVER JEWISH) is their homeland. Now, we Palestinians and Arabs have the complete right to defend terrorism executed by Israel on us until the day of Judgement. Therefore, never think that a person's right to something will yield or give up, we never give up and all of us are HAMAS.
    In Response

    by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
    July 13, 2014 12:04 AM
    According to the Koran, there are lot of Sura verses that state Muslims should kill all the Jews and Christians. So if you are a Christians, you are one of those Prophet Mohammed was talking about when he wrote the Koran. The Koran clearly state that Muslims, Christians and Jews are not serving the same God, and they cannot mix. The Allah of the Koran is not the Jehovah of the bible.(Koran, Sura 109, Read)
    Mulims are commanded to killed the Christians and Jews, Sura 2:191, Sura 9:123, Sura 9:29, Sura 22:19, Sura 5:51, Muslims are instructed not to make peace with the non Muslims Sura 9:7-9, So if you are a Christians who are in supportive of Islam, you are on the wrong side of religion. and these scriptures show that you are a target also by a Muslim.
    We are not fighting with Muslims nor Arabs. We have made our position clear based on History, based on the Koran, base on the bible, that we support the Jews. Based on enough studies.
    Another evidence in history, read of Countries and empire that occupied Israel, it didn't say Palestine. it said Israel. That proves that Israel was there before the Arab. In AD 633 Caliph Omar, A Muslim general captured Jerusalem Israel, it didn't say Palestine. History said A Muslims general captured Israel in AD 633. not Palestine. God Bless Israel
    In Response

    by: Leroy padmore from: Jersey City
    July 12, 2014 10:41 PM
    1worldnow, this what I have been wanting you to see. I don't hate the Palestinian people, but the fact of the matter, they know that the land belongs to the Jews. Thank you for standing for the truth. I do respect you with all my heart.be bless
    In Response

    by: 1worldnow from: Earth
    July 12, 2014 10:05 PM
    So when Hamas puts women and children in the buildings they (Palestinians) know will be bombed by Israel (because Israel warns them in advance), that must be Israel's fault?

    By the way, Israel was long established (even in the Koran) before Palestine was ever invented by the Arabs!!!! It's in your beloved and sacred Koran!!!!! Are you saying that Muhammed must have been drunk when he stated the children of Israel, and the land of Israel???? Killing the innocent is killing the innocent, reagrdless if they are Muslim or not, idiot! And, the Day of Judgement is for all those who have committed evils in the name of religion!!!! That goes fro all Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Shintaoists, Scientologists,.....ALL OF US!!!

    The Jews aren't trying to cleanse the world of all non-Jews, are they??? But Muslims do strive to either cleanse the world of all non-believers, or exterminate those who wish to not convert. That is commanded by Muhammed!!!!!! It is also commanded by Muhammed to kill all Jews, regardless where they are!!!!!!! Tell me I am wrong about your peaceful religion of Islam.

    by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
    July 12, 2014 4:43 AM
    The situation in Israel is getting more violence moment by moment. Hamas has fired more than 500 rockets into Israel since the fighting begun.Israel have to respond with more airstrikes on Gaza, hitting Hamas targets.
    And since July 10, we have seen an extreme escalation of violence from Hamas, they even threaten to hit the dimona plant, First of all, hitting the plant is the whole Middle East worry, not Israel alone, including Gazian worry too.
    Palestinian extremists in Gaza began firing rockets at Israeli civilian targets day and night, Israel have to do the same. We are calling on PM Netanyahu not to back down to any international pressures. Hamas must pay a hard price. Dealing with a terrorist group, you have to hit harder then that of the rebel. Becuz this is the only language they understand. Israel cannot be the nice guy on the war on terrorist. Israel has to dismantle them completely.
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