The military conflict between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist militant group that rules the Gaza Strip, continues to escalate. Both sides blame each other for provoking the conflict and neither side at this point is ready to back down.
Hamas Thursday released video it says shows rockets being fired from Gaza towards Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities.
The Israeli army also released video showing the aerial targeting and destruction of a rocket launcher and a tunnel in northern Gaza. The Israelis have launched hundreds of attacks on Hamas targets. Palestinian causalities, including women and children, are mounting. No Israelis have has been seriously injured.
Israel says Hamas must cease the rocket fire from Gaza for Israel to consider a truce.
"We tried to de-escalate; messages were sent; we told Hamas to stop this rocket fire. But they continued, and now we are acting," said Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli prime minister. "The Israeli defense forces are acting to bring about a situation where the people of Israel no longer have to live in fear."
The escalation in violence was sparked by the abductions and killings of three Israeli students and a Palestinian teenager. Palestinian leaders say there is also growing frustration with Israel’s ongoing occupation of Palestinian areas and the lack of progress towards a political settlement.
“This is a government that does not have a political agenda," said Maen Areikat, the Palestine Liberation Organization's Chief Representative to the United States. "It does not have a peace agenda with the Palestinian people. And each member of the coalition there is competing against the other. They are trying to out bid and out stage each other for domestic agenda and the Palestinians are paying the price.”
President Obama has urged restraint on both sides, but analyst Steve McInerney, with the Project on Middle East Democracy, says the United States can do little to end this conflict.
“The United States has a strong relationship with Israel but the lack of relationship and influence on the other side is extremely limiting and I think the influence that the United States could have to bring about sort of a cease fire is not very likely,” he said.
Neither side is showing any sign of halting their heaviest fighting since an eight-day battle in late 2012. But Israel has stopped short of a ground invasion that could lead to greater casualties on both sides.