News / Middle East

Israel Pounds Gaza; Netanyahu Warns of Long Campaign

  • Israeli soldiers stand atop a tank near the border with Gaza, July 29, 2014.
  • Palestinians carry their belongings as they flee Israeli airstrikes, in Gaza City, July 29, 2014.
  • An Israeli man looks through binoculars towards the Gaza Strip near the southern town of Sderot, July 29, 2014.
  • A Palestinian man searches for victims under the rubble of a house destroyed in an Israeli airstrike, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, July 29, 2014.
  • A Palestinian man carries the body of Palestinian girl killed in an Israeli airstrike in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, July 29, 2014.
  • A Palestinian firefighter at Gaza's main power plant, which was hit in Israeli shelling, in the central Gaza Strip, July 29, 2014.
  • Palestinian men prepare to distribute bread at a United Nations-run school acting as a shelter for residents who have fled their homes during an Israeli ground operation, in Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip, July 29, 2014.
  • An Israeli soldier prays as he sits atop a tank near the border with Gaza, July 29, 2014.
Israeli Airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, July 29, 2014
VOA News

Israel's military stepped up its bombardment of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country should be prepared for a long conflict in the Palestinian enclave, quashing any hopes of a swift end to the conflict.

Palestinian health officials say attacks from Israeli warplanes and tanks have killed at least 100 people Tuesday in the most widespread attacks since fighting began three weeks ago. The Palestinian death toll has climbed to more than 1,100, mainly civilians. 

Israel has lost 53 soldiers, two Israeli civilians and a Thai worker since launching its offensive July 8 in response to rocket attacks from Hamas and its allies.

Israeli tank fire hit the fuel depot of the Gaza Strip's only power plant on Tuesday, witnesses said, cutting electricity to Gaza City and many other parts of the Palestinian enclave of 1.8 million people. Electricity already had been limited to several hours a day.

The reclusive Hamas military commander has surfaced to reject any cease-fire with Israel until the group's demands are met.

Mohammad Deif appeared on Palestinian media Tuesday to repeat Hamas' demands that Israel end its blockade of Gaza.

Deif is confined to a wheelchair because of an Israeli assassination attempt.

A Palestinian firefighter works during efforts to extinguish a fire at Gaza's main power plant, which witnesses said was hit in Israeli shelling, in the central Gaza Strip, July 29, 2014.A Palestinian firefighter works during efforts to extinguish a fire at Gaza's main power plant, which witnesses said was hit in Israeli shelling, in the central Gaza Strip, July 29, 2014.
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A Palestinian firefighter works during efforts to extinguish a fire at Gaza's main power plant, which witnesses said was hit in Israeli shelling, in the central Gaza Strip, July 29, 2014.
A Palestinian firefighter works during efforts to extinguish a fire at Gaza's main power plant, which witnesses said was hit in Israeli shelling, in the central Gaza Strip, July 29, 2014.

Israel targeted symbols of Hamas control, firing on the house of Hamas Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh before dawn on Tuesday, causing damage but no casualties, Gaza's interior ministry said.

Hamas said its broadcast outlets, Al-Aqsa TV and Al-Aqsa Radio also were targeted. Early Tuesday, at least two major explosions hit the media building, one of the tallest in Gaza, starting a fire on the roof and shaking surrounding buildings.

The television station continued to broadcast, but the radio station went silent.

The Abu Khadra government complex in Gaza City was badly damaged, and two mosques were hit. Residents also said 20 houses were destroyed during the night.

Ready for truce?

The Palestine Liberation Organization says Palestinians, including Hamas and Islamic jihad leaderships, are ready for a 24-hour truce. PLO Secretary-General Yasser Abed Rabbo added that Palestinians are favorably considering a U.N. proposal to extend the humanitarian cease-fire to 72 hours.

Hamas has not confirmed the PLO truce statement.

In a televised address Monday night, a grim-faced Netanyahu said any solution to the crisis would require the demilitarization of the Palestinian territory, controlled by Hamas Islamists and their militant allies.

“We will not finish the mission, we will not finish the operation without neutralizing the tunnels, which have the sole purpose of destroying our citizens, killing our children,” Netanyahu said, adding that it had been a “painful day.”

“We need to be prepared for a protracted campaign. We will continue to act with force and discretion until our mission is accomplished,” Netanyahu said.

Also Tuesday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Israel was committing "genocide" in Gaza and said the Islamic world should be working to arm the Palestinian people.

Hundreds of flares

Israeli forces fired hundreds of flares that turned the night sky bright orange. By daybreak Tuesday, a cloud of thick dust from the explosions hung over Gaza City.

Akram Mogdadm holds the body of his son, Baraa, 6, who was killed along with 9 other people, all but one of them children, in an explosion at a park at Shati refugee camp, in the northern Gaza Strip, July 28, 2014.Akram Mogdadm holds the body of his son, Baraa, 6, who was killed along with 9 other people, all but one of them children, in an explosion at a park at Shati refugee camp, in the northern Gaza Strip, July 28, 2014.
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Akram Mogdadm holds the body of his son, Baraa, 6, who was killed along with 9 other people, all but one of them children, in an explosion at a park at Shati refugee camp, in the northern Gaza Strip, July 28, 2014.
Akram Mogdadm holds the body of his son, Baraa, 6, who was killed along with 9 other people, all but one of them children, in an explosion at a park at Shati refugee camp, in the northern Gaza Strip, July 28, 2014.

Israel's defense forces continue to seek and destroy the warren of Hamas tunnels that criss-crosses the border area.

An opinion poll broadcast by Israel's Channel 10 television showed overwhelming public support for continuing the Gaza offensive until Hamas is “disarmed.”

Hamas leaders remained defiant in the aftermath of the Israeli onslaught.
 
“My house is not more valuable than the houses of other people, destroying stones will not break our determination,” Hamas Gaza leader  Haniyeh said in a statement after Tuesday's attack on his home.

The overnight strikes came after a day of heavy Hamas-Israeli fighting in which at least eight children were killed by a strike while playing outside, according to Palestinian health officials. Each side blames the other for the tragedy.

Israeli tanks also resumed heavy shelling in Gaza's border areas, killing five people, including three children and a 70-year-old woman, and wounding 50 in the town of Jebaliya. It was among the areas warned to evacuate, the Red Crescent said.

A number of rockets fired from Gaza were launched toward southern and central Israel, including the Tel Aviv area. At least one rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome system. No casualties or damage were reported.

Cease-fire negotiations

Foreign pressure has been building on Netanyahu to muzzle his forces.

Both U.S. President Barack Obama and the U.N. Security Council called for an immediate cease-fire to allow relief to reach Palestinians, followed by negotiations on a more durable halt to hostilities.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed concern about the reports of Israeli forces dropping leaflets over northern Gaza Monday evening warning tens of thousands of residents to leave their homes and evacuate to Gaza City, according to a statement released by his spokesman.

“If true, this would have a further devastating humanitarian impact on the beleaguered civilians of those areas of the Gaza Strip, who have already undergone immense suffering in recent days,” it said. “The United Nations agencies present in Gaza do not have the resources on the ground to cope with, or provide assistance to, an enormous extra influx of desperate people.”

Ban deplored what he said was a lack of resolve among all parties.

“It's a matter of their political will. They have to show their humanity as leaders, both Israeli and Palestinian,” he told reporters.

Tension over US mediation efforts

After three weeks of bloodshed, both Israel and Hamas are holding out for bigger gains and a cease-fire remains elusive, despite an appeal by the U.N. Security Council and growing pressure from the United States.

Israel says its troops will not leave Gaza until they have demolished scores of Hamas military tunnels under the Gaza-Israel border. Hamas says it will not cease fire until it receives international guarantees that Gaza's 7-year-old border blockade by Egypt and Israel will be lifted.

Tension between Netanyahu's government and Washington has flared over U.S. mediation efforts, adding another chapter to the prickly relations between the Israeli leader and Obama.

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry continued his push for a bilateral cease-fire, despite mounting Israeli media criticism of his efforts.

The Obama administration rallied to Kerry's defense, rejecting Israeli commentary describing U.S. proposals as being more favorable to Hamas and dismissive of key Israeli concerns.  

U.S.-led negotiations over 20 years have brokered no permanent peace deal.

The most recent round collapsed in April, with Palestinians livid over Jewish settlement building in the occupied West Bank and Israelis furious that Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had signed a unity pact with old foe Hamas.

In New York, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon deplored what he said was a lack of resolve among all parties.

“It's a matter of their political will. They have to show their humanity as leaders, both Israeli and Palestinian,” he told reporters. 

Some information for this report provided by Reuters, AP and AFP.

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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 3
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by: zeno
July 30, 2014 4:32 AM

On June 30, Israel confirmed that the three Israeli settlers were dead and their bodies were buried in a field near the village of Halhul north of the city of al-Khalil (Hebron) in the West Bank.

A day after the funeral of the three teenagers, Israeli settlers abducted and burned alive 17-year-old Palestinian Mohamed Abu Khdeir in the West Bank in retaliation for the incident.

One of the main reasons that Israel launched its new war on Gaza was the regime’s accusations against Hamas over the kidnapping issue.

The Palestinian death toll has reached 900 from more than two weeks of Israeli strikes. Around 5,700 Palestinians have also been injured in the onslaught.

Israeli warplanes have been carrying out incessant airstrikes against the blockaded Gaza Strip since July 8. On July 17, thousands of Israeli soldiers launched a ground incursion into the densely-populated strip.

The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, has been launching retaliatory attacks against Israel.

While Israel confirms 37 Israelis have been killed in the war, Hamas sources put the number at about 90. https://plus.google.com/115940...
In Response

by: ran segal from: israel
July 31, 2014 10:27 AM
A thousand mothers that will weep, and no my mother!

by: Michael from: San Diego
July 30, 2014 3:37 AM
We have to understand that the conflict in Israel is a small part of the big picture. Hamas is not alone, in a vacuum. Hamas is part of a huge network of extremists throughout the Middle East working to overthrow Western-allied governments and replace them with an Islamic caliphate operating under sharia law. Their goal is basically anti-democratic and they do not care a bit about our friendship beyond how it directly benefits the caliphate.

Even though the US is their main benefactor, they hate us, they hate religious pluralism and their friends have greatly denuded the Middle east of both Christians, Jews and even Muslim sects. The Palestinians danced in the streets and gave candy away during 9/11. To kill a Jew, any Jew for any reason is cause for celebration.

It is one thing to feel sympathy for an oppressed people, oppressed by terrorists they elected. It is quite another to not see who our friends are and how we are all in the same boat.
In Response

by: edward from: germany
July 30, 2014 4:00 AM
The largest of the terrorist organizations is Israel bringing holocaust to it's neighbors and shame on humanity.

by: green from: ny
July 30, 2014 2:02 AM
To michiku you thanks Israel I will remained you if you forgotten what happen to your country in Hiroshima do you accept that people thank. Us for their bombardment? ????????????

by: willard from: UK
July 30, 2014 2:00 AM
Sad that Israel is using the same collective punishment the Nazis used on Jewish resistance fighters.

by: green from: ny
July 30, 2014 1:56 AM
I will remained everyone that when a 15 years old boy came out in CT. And kill many student everybody was crying for them that fine so far but when a brutal army kill children and civilians you blaming Hamas that a bullshit those people whom supporting Israel you have to think twice if you are under occupation and the world watching like a movie shame on you

by: NAM from: M.E
July 30, 2014 1:49 AM
If only Russia, North Korea, China, Pakistan, Iran and some other Nations help Hamas with sophisticated weapons. All U.S. hegemony will be destroyed in M.E. for ever.....All 51Islamic states will be the market for these countries for foreseeable future.....

by: kevin larmee from: chicago
July 30, 2014 1:37 AM
Really creepy reading these comments.
Obviously the propaganda machine is well-oiled and running well.
In Response

by: shake from: Canada
July 30, 2014 3:05 AM
I think it's far worse than that. We don't need propaganda anymore.

by: Not Again from: Canada
July 29, 2014 4:02 PM
Sit in Gaza is deteriorating badly reports are starting to surface, in the media, that Hamas is excecuting disidents and those that refuse to martyr themselves, by staying in their homes after they get Israeli warnings to evacuate the battle area; most terrorist organizations are vey brutal. During the last war, that Hamas started, people were being dragged to their deaths behind motorcycles. Any disident in Gaza is immediately being accussed of being an Israeli collaborator or an Israeli spy. Such sit are well in line to what terrorists organizations do, and it is not material what religion they claim to represent. A few years back the Irish Republican Army was abducting and executing house wiwes and even teenagers. Very sad.

by: Michiku from: Japan
July 29, 2014 2:15 PM
Israel, please to accept all our love from Japan.

we love you Israel - alot of admiration - respect
In Response

by: Anonymous
July 30, 2014 2:05 AM
meanbill: I think your handle fits you really well. Clearly you have a crystal clear memory of every atrocity committed in history and are quick to point it out. So, you should realise that the history of the human race is quite full of war and this one is a tiny pin prick compared to others. Gen. Lemay firebombed Japan and killed 80,00 people each time. So there are lots of atrocities to remember. But you remember only the ones committed by Israel. Keep up the good work.
In Response

by: meanbill from: USA
July 29, 2014 9:01 PM
A letter from the little islanders, of the little island of the rising sun, that committed as many or more atrocities against humanity as Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Genghis Khan, and now praises the atrocities that Israel commits on the Palestinians?

PS; .. I'm sure Israel appreciates the support of their committed atrocities, from the experts from the little island of the rising sun? .... (Maybe they'll join you in the history books, in major atrocities committed, and listed by countries?)

by: meanbill from: USA
July 29, 2014 1:49 PM
The headlines said it best: ... "Israel pounds Gaza" _ but they (haven't the courage), to go into Gaza to fight Hamas in ground warfare, and it's safer to sit back and indiscriminately bombard everything and everybody in Gaza..... (the world is watching)..
In Response

by: AndyfromChicago from: Chicago
July 29, 2014 4:31 PM
Why would Israel "go into Gaza to fight Hamas in ground warfare"? Armies do not win wars by fighting battles the opponent wants them to fight. Israel should fight this action to minimize its own casualties.

I also take issue with your comment that Israel is "... indiscriminately bombard[ing] everything and everybody in Gaza." The news reports to date suggest that Israel has precision munitions, and is trying not to target Gazan civilians. Compare that with Hamas, which is aiming its missiles at civilian population centers.
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