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
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.
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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by: Hai from: Viet Nam
July 11, 2014 10:52 PM
The Palestinians want to have peaceful country n freedom.
In Response

by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
July 12, 2014 5:13 PM
Hai, we all want the Palestinians to live peaceful and free, but the problem here is your people Hamas. Not Israel. If Hamas doesn't fire rockets into Israel, trust me, Israel have to reason to fire into Gaza. Trust me if Israel does that, I will have to point to their wrong doing. In at much I love Israel, if they do wrong, we will point it out. Other wise you have you people to blame who do want peace with Israel. We feel for the common citizens, but at the same token Israel has the right to defend their country. Be bless Hai
In Response

by: Tom from: Chula Vista
July 12, 2014 11:10 AM
However, they do not want an Israel. Do you understand this? If you gave them the real estate, a flag, anthem and national bird they would still launch rockets at Israel... because they want it gone.
In Response

by: Peter from: Australia
July 12, 2014 4:43 AM
I understand what you are trying to say, mate. Israelis want the same thing.

by: Jackson from: Nigeria
July 11, 2014 5:53 PM
Isreal has every right to defend herself against any terrorist group, I am in full support of the Isreal State for that but more caution should be in place to stop the killing of children and females including the defenseless civilians. Hamas should stop using civilian population as shield. If the think they are strong enough to open the gate of hell for Isreal as they Promised let them come out openly on a defined front and face them let see who surrender first. Enough of those cowardice suicide bombing and hit and run into hiding in caves and forest by Hamas and Boko Haram their sister Islamic group in Nigeria
In Response

by: Tasnim Ahmed
July 12, 2014 2:55 AM
Israel has the right to defend itself? You mean the land that it stole from Palestinians by bulldozing 12000 of their homes illegally? Hamas is using civilians as shields? Israel isn't even targeting Hamas, that's why virtually every person killed has been an innocent civilian, half of which are women and children.The world is tired of this nonsense, Israel's entire existence has been based on stealing land from Palestinians to give to "God's Chosen Ones" and then calling Palestinians "militants" and "terrorists" when they fight back with rocks against the bulldozers that bulldoze thousands of their homes. The truth will not be hidden any longer.

by: Taiwo from: Nigeria
July 11, 2014 3:04 PM
Terrorist have no right to existl, there should be à United global war against terrorism
In Response

by: Abdirahman Manaxe from: Minnesota, USA
July 12, 2014 5:51 AM
@ Taiwo
What do you know about the conflict between Palestine and Israel?
You are throwing some loose word, "terrorist" with no real specification. If you own a place and you attacked another place or they attacked your place, that doesn't mean your are terrorist but attacker or defender. Hamas and Israel call each other a terrorist unless you favor one of them. Who is the real terrorist while using your reasoning? I'm waiting U Taiwo.
In Response

by: Saiyyed Hasan from: USA
July 12, 2014 5:00 AM
If put a bomb @your home &you only stone. What you do?
In Response

by: Tasnim Ahmed
July 12, 2014 3:13 AM
Yes terrorists shouldn't exist, and the world is learning who the real terrorists are. It's the side that has just butchered over 100 innocent Palestinian civilians in order to "defend" land that it illegally obtained by bulldozing 12,000 Palestinian homes, not the side that has not even killed an Israeli dog so far with the rockets that they fire in retaliation.

by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
July 11, 2014 2:18 PM
Hi David, this thing is very simple, if you fired rockets at Israel and it's citizen, Israel will do the same also. This is a two way street. What give them the right to killed the civilians in Israel and Israel cannot do the same? Before this war started, Iran supply Hamas with lot of rockets, the INF cease some of the shipment on the sea and brought it into the port, and displayed those rockets so that the world can see. No UN or the US did something about it.

Hamas started firing rockets into Israel daily, PM Netanyahu complained to the UN and the US, did they do something about it? No. Hamas was provoking this war from time after time, because they felt they have Iranian made rockets that can reach all Israeli cities. Knowing fully well Israel will retaliate with a heavy force. The Arab world has unite some many times to defeat Israel, they can't and will never. They want to do harm to Israel, but when they come from that battle, history will not know where to start from to write that history.

They fire their rockets indiscriminately into Israeli populated area, damaging their infrastructure, and causing causality on Israel, why Israel cannot do the same? There is no military in the Middle East that can defeat Israel, if so why they cannot get into the fight? They came into the Jewish people and stole the people land, settle in the Jewish people and now they are saying the land for them? What kind of mess is this?

In Response

by: Igor from: Russia
July 12, 2014 5:23 AM
With your reasoning I can imagine that there would be a nuclear explosion inside Israel in the near future.
In Response

by: Saiyyed Hasan from: USA
July 12, 2014 5:03 AM
Can you tell me only israel have a right to live and no othes.
In Response

by: Tasnim Ahmed
July 12, 2014 3:02 AM
Israel's entire existence is based on stealing land from Palestinians by bulldozing 12,000 of their homes illegally. This is an occupation, arguing otherwise is baseless. Palestinians have the right to defend themselves against an occupation under international law. Israel, being the occupier, does not.

This current massacre of innocent civilians is in "self-defense" of the three Israeli teens that were killed, and Israel has no proof that any Palestinian was responsible for their death. This entire massacre is being carried out based on an assumption that some Palestinians may have POSSIBLY killed those three teens, and as a result over 100 innocent Palestinian civilians have been killed so far without any justification whatsoever. No Israeli has been killed, not even an animal has been killed. This isn't self-defense, it never was. This isn't even war. This is MURDER.

It's only a matter of time before Israel is held accountable for its crimes and blatant violations of human rights. The world isn't going to stay blind forever.
In Response

by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
July 11, 2014 11:56 PM
Rami was the Koran written 1921? or before 1921? If your answer is yes, the Koran was written 1921,then you are saying the Koran has a problem?because the Koran speaks of Israel, the children of Israel and the Jews. if you are say no, then the Koran has disproved your belief about Israel coming into the land 1921. Because the Koran speaks of Israel. So what you need to do, do your study right. Read your own Holy Book, Learn, equip yourself with knowledge. It gives you confidence.
In Response

by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
July 11, 2014 5:47 PM
You are on the wrong side of History Rami, I don't blame you, you have the right to say what you said, you know why? VOA edit the true I wrote about Israel and the rightful owner of the land. So to can go ahead say what you want, VOA KNOWS THE TRUE. Rami if you are a Muslim, read your Koran, you will see Israel, Jews and the Children of Israel, and how the land is for the Jews. You right to make all that mouth. Thanks to VOA, is media like VOA KEEPING LIKE YOU IN DARKNESS
In Response

by: Rami
July 11, 2014 3:41 PM
Come on dear
Which land are talking about, israeli come to this land after 1921, you can read the history before saying that its their land, when Jewish from all around europe, Russia, and north africa had been moved to palestiane to establish a new country called israel.
Please read the history carefully to judge this matter, Jewish pepole who was in Palestine are still their in napluse "one of palestiane cities" , you can read about them.

by: Frankie from: Chicago
July 11, 2014 1:43 PM
Trade blows? Hamas sends out bottle rockets and Israel massacres Gaza. So one it's pinching vs machine gunning. And all of Israel's online trolls could make all the excuses they want. The truth is very clear. Israel could not afford living with a unified Palestinian government and is doing everything it can to destroy it along with the Palestinian people.

It is all part of the Zionist plan. Palestinians are easier to ethnically cleanse when they are infighting rather than united. Israel has been committing genocide for more than 60 years, so they know what they're doing.

by: Rami
July 11, 2014 1:34 PM
I never care about Israeli army nor Hamas I only care about 100 killed most of them are women and children, 650 Injured from Gaza, only 2 army officers injured in Israeli do this numbers mean anything for you Where's humanity??? What can we say to our children in future when they read about this, we will say its Israeli right to kill more than 30 kid. Why you don't ask Israel to back to the real borders 1976?God forgive me for not being able to do any thing
In Response

by: Buthaina Utqi
July 12, 2014 5:49 AM
Rami don't listen to some ignorance !!
In Palestine we are united Muslims and Christians side by side to fight Israel !
They started it and we'll finish it

by: Lawrence Bush from: Houston Texas
July 11, 2014 1:33 PM
The current brickbattings between our friendly state Israel in one side and the Hamas and the Hizbollah on the other are very phenomenal. The current eruptions have started with the brazen kidnapping and killing of the Israeli students by the Hamas side and the killing attempt and the live burning of a Palestinian teen by the Israeli side.

Despite the reciprocal crime committed on behalf of the Israeli side, the premier Netanyahu had reached out to the father of that Palestinian teen and concerning condolences. The same had not taken place on behalf of the Palestine side. Undoubtedly, our friendly state Israel does have all rights to retaliate upon the terror groups like Hamas of the Palestine side, even it is the Lebanese Hizbollah.

Out of a mole, there must not be the escalations of mountainous crisis as the attacks and the counterattacks sustain by both the belligerent sides. President Sisi of our friendly state should mediate between the Palestinians and the Israelis as the current trend of commotions deescalate. While the Syrian civil war is on, so the ISIL problem in Iraq............on this preview, it is necessary as both the sides must play restraint and ceasefire must be applied on behalf of friendly states in the Middle East, the UN as well as our govt.
In Response

by: Tasnim Ahmed
July 12, 2014 3:10 AM
For the record, there is absolutely no evidence that any Palestinian was responsible for the deaths of those three Israeli teens, this entire massacre is being carried out based on the ASSUMPTION that some Palestinians may have POSSIBLY been responsible for their deaths. No one has claimed responsibility, and Israel has absolutely no idea who killed them. And you see the result now, over 100 innocent Palestinians have been killed so far by Israel, whereas the Palestinian has not even been able to kill a dog with its retaliatory rockets. This isn't self-defense. This isn't even a war. This is MURDER.

The entire existence of Israel is based on land stolen from the illegal bulldozing of 12,000 Palestinian homes, and then giving this land to Israeli Jews after expelling Palestinians. Any Palestinian who attempts to fight this oppression is automatically labelled a "Hamas terrorist" or a "militant", even if it's a child who is throwing rocks at a bulldozer that is about to illegally bulldoze his home. Israel is an occupation of Palestinians and their land, under international law Palestinians have the legal right to defend themselves and resist occupation. Israel on the other hand, being the occupier, does not.

by: Bruce Mulraney from: Marina del Rey, CA USA
July 11, 2014 1:21 PM
If some group in Canada or Mexico was firing rockets into the US, would the US just launch retaliatory tit-for-tat strikes or set up an Iron Dome? No, we would strike hard to eliminate the threat permanently. No US President could remain in office if he limited his response to tit-for-tat strikes or an Iron Dome.

by: Zion Episcopal Church from: US
July 11, 2014 1:10 PM
i begin to believe that after the "Arab spring" which has turned into Islamic slaughterhouse nightmare, the world simply lost interest in the Middle East... yes, you have to pay lip service, urge "restraint on all parties..." but really... when a terrorist organization fires missiles indiscriminately into a State and than cries no body is going to give a damn...

Sadam, Mubarack, Gadafy, Saudi, Assad, Putin gassed and killed the reprobates by the hundreds of thousands - only the Israelis send leaflets, and call you before they bomb you... Sorry guys, but i love the Israelis... and I pray that they will take their own country back from these despicable Islamic barbarians.
In Response

by: Saiyyed Hasan from: USA
July 12, 2014 5:34 AM
Sir you should sleep i think you are still sleeping. This is all politics look the reality. Who gave them this designation. You or the muslims.

by: meanbill from: USA
July 11, 2014 12:57 PM
BEWARE.... that this doesn't unite all the Muslims like in crusader days, and turn Israel into another Diem Bien Phu, where both sides go all in, in a war that should never have happened? ... (Settle it once and for all?).... a call to arms, for the US armed Sunni Muslim al-Baghdadi (ISIL) army?
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