News / Middle East

    Israel Launches Military Offensive Against Gaza Militants

    A picture taken from the southern Israeli border with the Gaza Strip shows Israeli flares illuminating the Palestinian coastal enclave, July 7, 2014.
    A picture taken from the southern Israeli border with the Gaza Strip shows Israeli flares illuminating the Palestinian coastal enclave, July 7, 2014.
    Reuters

    Israel launched an aerial offensive in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, bombing more than 30 targets including homes and calling it part of a campaign named “Operation Protective Edge” targeting Hamas Islamist militants firing rockets at the Jewish state.

    The military urged Israelis within a 40-km (24-mile) radius of the southern coastal territory to stay within reach of protected areas and ordered summer camps shut as a precaution against rocket fire.

    Palestinian officials said Israel bombed more than 30 targets in little more than an hour before dawn, including two homes in southern Gaza, one of which was identified by a neighbor as belonging to a Hamas member.

    Nine people suffered shrapnel injuries. There were no other reported casualties as the buildings were believed to have been evacuated beforehand.

    Witnesses said a house bombed in Khan Younis was flattened. The Palestinian Health Ministry said nine neighbors were wounded by debris from that strike.

    The Palestinian Interior Ministry said the family in the targeted home had received a telephone call from an Israeli intelligence officer asking them to leave the house because it would be bombed, and the family evacuated in time.

    A military spokeswoman confirmed air strikes were launched but had no details.

    Military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said in a tweet that “Operation Protective Edge is under way, targeting Hamas capabilities that are terrorizing Israel.”

    Hamas' armed wing threatened an “earthquake” in response to Israel's attacks, and said it had fired a rocket at a southern Israeli town.

    In a statement the group denounced Israel's bombing of houses as “exceeding all red lines” and threatened to shoot rockets at longer distances. “We will respond by broadening the range of our targets,” the militants said.

    Lerner said Gaza militants had fired more than 80 rockets at Israel on Monday, and military officials said more than 200 rockets have been shot at Israel in the past month, an enormous uptick in shootings.

    Security Cabinet Decides

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet decided on Monday to step up air strikes against militants in coastal Gaza. Political sources said ministers stopped short of ordering a ground offensive for now.

    Netanyahu had earlier pledged “to do whatever is necessary” to restore quiet to southern Israeli communities though he cautioned against any rush toward wider confrontation with Hamas, whose arsenal includes long-range rockets that can reach Israel's heartland and its business capital Tel Aviv.

    But far-right cabinet ministers pressed for a firmer response to silence rocket fire. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman quit an alliance with Netanyahu's party citing dissatisfaction with Netanyahu's policy on Gaza.

    The surge in violence has raged since the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli youths last month in the occupied West Bank and a Palestinian teen last week, in an attack for which Israel has arrested six Jewish suspects.

    Air raid sirens wailed as far north as the outskirts of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem on Monday night. Israeli police said those were false alarms, but the military said rockets had triggered alerts as far as 80 km (48 miles), the farthest of the latest crisis.

    Two Israelis were injured in Monday's rocket strikes.

    Lerner told reporters on Monday that Israel had called up several hundred reservists and was prepared to mobilize a total of 1,500. He said the intensity of Hamas rocket fire meant “the Israeli military is talking about preparedness for an escalation.”

    Hamas claimed responsibility for firing rockets at Israel on Monday for the first time since a 2012 war with Israel that ended in an Egyptian-brokered truce.

    The group's death toll on Monday had also been the highest Hamas suffered since the 2012 fighting.

    Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri accused Israel of committing a “grave escalation” in violence and threatened to retaliate, saying Israel would “pay the price.”

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    Comments
         
    by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
    July 08, 2014 4:20 AM
    Fatah, Hamas and every Arab organization that ever existed in that region has one way or the other call for the destruction of the STATE OF ISRAEL. The original PLO charter clearly calls for the violent and dismantling of the JEWISH STATE, (NOT ZIONIST, BUT JEWISH)
    The Fact that Israel is standing in the midst of the Arab nations is a defeat to them. And they will not rest until they destroy Israel, and that will not happen. Israel has lot of doom day weapons, you think Israel will just sit there for some country to just come and remove them out of their land? that will never happen.
    The IAF punished Hamas terrorists in Gaza on Sunday into Monday, killing nine members and destroying underground terror bases and rockets launchers. The IAF carry out massive airstrikes in retaliation for a constant rockets hitting Israel. If Hamas doesn't stop the rockets firing into Israel, their common citizen will die in the hands of Israel. and the world has to blame Hamas.
    The rocket firing has escalated to over 80 since Monday morning? Now what the US, the UN and EU want Israel to do? just sit there? any country will fight back. that is a normal reaction. Israel is just doing what other country will do. God Bless Israel

    by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
    July 08, 2014 1:56 AM
    We support the IDF to carry on their operation,The reason is Hamas feels she has long range missiles that can hit all Israel cities, Hamas kept provoking Israel to battle,Firing hundred of rockets into Israel cities day and night. No Country will never and ever take that. so why should it be Israel?
    This whole escalation begun with an unprovoked attacked on Israel every single day. And Israel now is in a position that she has to do what she has to do. Israel has to finish the 2008 job.
    Hamas has been terrorizing Israel for a long period of time now, and enough is really enough. The spoke man for Hamas said in an interview with VOA said Hamas has long range rockets that can hit Tel Aviv, when that Happens, say bye to Gaza. There will be no Gaza.
    All those people in our nation that hate Israel, can they allowed Russia to hit our country with a long range missile and we all say it is ok? No we all will be in the street calling the Government to take action, so it is with Israel. God Bless Israel, my friend

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