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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Comments page of 3
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by: Anthony from: Rome
July 29, 2014 1:40 PM
I live in Rome, and for me to see the desecration of our Holy Vatican City the City of Saint Peter (a Jewish Rabbi - one of the Twelve Apostles of Christ) be infested with Islamic graffiti against the Jews which we consider the bedrock of Catholic Christendom - it should unite all of Christendom in a unified front against the Islamic filth. Christians Unite in defense of God's Chosen People. Let us run these Muslims out of Europe like a cancer in our midst.

by: Dr. Masta Marina from: Finland
July 29, 2014 1:19 PM
to all the Iranian trolls here consumed with jealousy and envy of Israel's sophistication and enlightened power... soon you -Iran - will fall prey to the Arabs depravity and atrocities. The same Mullahs that treat you and rape you like retarded children that you are, will invite the Arabs to slaughter you... Iran simply can not protect and defend its citizens like israel can... Iran is a cesspool of decay... look at ISIL... its on your doorstep... you know what they are going to do to you... don't you..??
In Response

by: edward goody from: Germany
July 30, 2014 9:37 AM
Jealous and envy ??? Certainly not the world is outraged that Israel is willingly murderering unarmed cagedcivilians many are children. The bring shame on themselves and humanity. Certainly have forfeited all holocaust sympathy having brought a holocaust to their neighbours.
In Response

by: Azam Ali from: Iran
July 29, 2014 2:07 PM
Dr. Marina, please don't tarnish all Iranians with the same brush. To most Iranians Israel is and has always been the light of wisdom and enlightenment in the world. And you don't have to tell us about arab depravity - we know. Waht is happening in the Middle East is a consequence of a timid "West" who tries to mediate between Good and Evil. Arab Muslims has become a transnational global threat... and "Politically Correct" language will just make them more brutal towards the West. You must learn from Israel - you must confront the Evil of Islam or it will devour you and your children.

by: Luther from: India
July 29, 2014 1:15 PM
Hamas terrorists are thorns; Israeli must completely uproot them from their existence.

by: Uribe from: Brazil
July 29, 2014 10:26 AM
look at Syria... look at Iraq... look at Libya... look at what the "Australian" Muslims do in Syria... go to you tube and see the filth and depravity - every Western country that has allowed this contamination to infect it will suffer the same end as Syria, Libya, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi, Egypt, Iran, Qatar, Lebanon...We need to stand by our friend Israel - who are by the common acknowledgement of all of Humanity - the wisest the smartest the most ancient and intelligent the light of the world - God's Chosen People. in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.
In Response

by: Reed from: Sierra Leone
July 29, 2014 1:15 PM
I don’t think if Hamas care and love the people of Palestine. They should have stop the fighting and call for dialogue. You cannot keep on fighting someone who is stronger than you. God will surely bless IDF and I will be ready to join the fight and fight for Israel

by: eowgt from: US
July 29, 2014 9:23 AM
Hamas keeps rejecting cease fires. Israel then escalates the destruction. Is Hamas full of slow learners?

by: cray from: monroe
July 29, 2014 8:57 AM
Israel is doing the only sensible thing in this situation. If a radical militant group in Canada continued to jeopardize American lives by indiscriminately launching missiles across our borders, using their own women and children as human shields, you can believe eventually we would respond in a similar manner.

These people are unreasonable ...and negotiations for cease fires and international pressure will not change their ideology that Israel should not exist. It is indoctrinated into them from birth. The only way to deal with Hamas is to pound them down until they can no longer stand up.

by: Dr. Mom from: USA
July 29, 2014 8:49 AM
The attacks on the Hamas press are attacks on propaganda machines and are not attacks on the free press. "News" from Gaza has been compromised with political grandstanding at best and outright lies at worst.

Israel is attacking a terrorist organization that has killed not only its citizens but the citizens of other countries - including the US citizens - as well. According to former Hamas members, Hamas wants to "Islamisize" the world.

Let me suggest something further. . . .where's the outcry for the Syrian who are being slaughtered in greater numbers? Or the concern that Iran is obtaining nuclear capabilities? Given the relationship between Hamas, Syria, and Iran, I wonder if this conflict was deliberately timed. Just a thought. . . .



by: kevin
July 29, 2014 8:43 AM
Thats The lords people Israel,God will fight for his people,wow to those who dare to come against an All consuming fire,the scriptures declare it ,please for the worlds sake stand with Israel,read the bible its Gods land and people,read the Tora the same is written!!!!!

by: roberta horn from: florida
July 29, 2014 8:43 AM
Blame the Jews. We are trying to protect what little is ours. I don't see where the Hamas spent anytime warning those in Israel that a rocket was coming, but we took the time to send leaflets to the Palestinians to hide from the bombing.

We, the Jews do not use our people or our children to protect us, but the Palestinians do. why? Cause they are animals not truly people at all. They could care less about their children and adults but that's okay by them cause they produce like rabbits. I hope Israel keeps up the good work. I know they will win.

by: victor from: United States
July 29, 2014 8:41 AM
How funny is this world. 2 small segments of the world are wounding each other. And the whole world is behind a common goal of "cease fire". Stop supplying arms to either one side if anyone really intends a cease fire. In the game of politics, innocent civilians are not even pawns of the board. How unfair?
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