News / Middle East

    Israel Pounds Gaza as Diplomacy Intensifies

    Palestinians remove debris from a building that was damaged in an Israeli strike, in Gaza City, Nov. 19, 2012.
    Palestinians remove debris from a building that was damaged in an Israeli strike, in Gaza City, Nov. 19, 2012.
    Scott Bobb
    As diplomacy intensifies to stop the cross-border attacks between Israel and the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical workers say more than 19 people were killed by Israeli air strikes Monday, bringing the death toll to at least 96 Palestinians and three Israelis.

    The attacks continued as diplomatic efforts in Cairo are reportedly making headway at halting the aerial volleys between Israel and Gaza, now in their sixth day.

    Israel's military said Monday it bombed dozens of sites in Gaza, including several buildings housing police of the Hamas movement which controls the territory.

    The militant group Islamic Jihad said a strike on a Gaza media tower that houses many foreign journalists killed one of the top commanders in its armed wing, the Al Quds Brigades. It was the second time the building has been hit in as many days.

    Watch related video of Israeli offensive in Gaza


    Israel said it also targeted underground rocket launching sites and tunnels used to smuggle and hide weapons.

    Freelance journalist Mohamed Dawwas told VOA that while fear is palpable in Gaza, the attitude of residents has hardened after days of airstrikes.

    "I see them strong. They really want to continue," he said. "I mean if the Israelis continue bombarding Gaza, they want the resistance to continue resisting the occupation. They really think they are stronger than before, [that] they can face it this time."
     
    Meanwhile, Palestinian militants in Gaza fired dozens of rockets into Israel. No casualties were reported as Israel said its Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted rockets headed towards populated areas.
     
    Gaza funeral
     
    Palestinian mourners carry the bodies of members of the al-Dallu family during a funeral procession in Gaza City on November 19, 2012.
    Palestinian mourners carry the bodies of members of the al-Dallu family during a funeral procession in Gaza City on November 19, 2012.
    Thousands of chanting Gazans marched in a funeral procession for 13 people, including 11 from one family, who were killed in an Israeli air strike Sunday.
     
    Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri accused Israel of targeting civilians. He said Israeli military operations are failing, leaving Israeli forces to aim at women and children.
     
    Israel accuses Palestinian militants of using civilians areas in Gaza to hide weapons and rocket launching sites. It says Hamas is targeting residential areas in Israel.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the army is prepared to significantly expand the offensive if necessary but that Israel prefers a diplomatic solution.
     
    Israel has deployed hundreds of tanks and thousands of troops near Gaza in preparation for a possible ground offensive.
     
    Israeli President Shimon Peres told special Middle East envoy Tony Blair that Israel's only aim is to stop the rockets.
     
    "I think this time Israel is clear that we don't have any ambitions to conquer land or to gain any advantages but, really, to stop the fire," he said.

    Blair called for a cease-fire.
     
    "I very much hope that over the coming days we can achieve cessation on a basis that is sustainable, on a basis that stops the threat of missiles coming from Gaza targeted at Israeli civilians, and also then relieves the people of Gaza who have also suffered of course," he said.
     
    International mediation
     
    Blair was one of several international mediators converging on the region hoping to broker an end to the violence which drastically escalated last Wednesday after an Israeli air attack that killed the head of the Hamas military wing.

    In Cairo, Egyptian-mediated talks to reach a truce between Palestinians and Israelis are ongoing. United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon arrived in Cairo Monday to support the efforts. While Israel and Hamas were far apart in their demands, both sides said they were open to a diplomatic solution - and prepared for further escalation if that failed.

    Israel is demanding that Hamas stop its rocket fire first.

    But Khaled Meshaal, the exiled leader of Hamas, said on Monday that Israel must take the first step.

    "Whoever started the war must end it," Meshaal said at a news conference in Cairo.

    • Smoke billows from the site of an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, November 21, 2012.
    • A Palestinian man reacts as flames and smoke rise from a smuggling tunnel after an Israeli strike along the border between Egypt and Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, November 21, 2012.
    • Israelis look at a blown up bus at the site of a bombing in Tel Aviv, Israel, November 21, 2012.
    • Israeli rescue workers and paramedics carry a wounded person from the site of a bombing in Tel Aviv, Israel, November 21, 2012.
    • Palestinian children stand in rubble after an Israeli strike on a house in Gaza City, November 20, 2012.
    • An Israeli soldier stands on a tank at a staging area near the Israel-Gaza Strip Border, November 20, 2012.
    • A Palestinian inspects the damage to a soccer stadium after an Israeli air strike in Gaza City, November 19, 2012.
    • Smoke and fire rise up from an explosion in Gaza City, November 19, 2012.
    • A Palestinian man waves the national flag during a protest against Israel's operations in Gaza Strip, outside Ofer, an Israeli military prison near the city of Ramallah, November 18, 2012.
    • An Israeli police officer gestures in front of a burning car after a rocket fired by Palestinian militants in Gaza landed in the southern city of Ashkelon, November 18, 2012. (Reuters)
    • Members of the Palestinian Civil Defense help a survivor after he was pulled out from under the rubble of his destroyed house after an Israeli air strike in Gaza City, November 18, 2012.
    • An Iron Dome launcher fires an interceptor rocket in the southern city of Ashdod, Israel, November 16, 2012.
    • A Palestinian man kisses the body of one of his children during their funeral in the northern Gaza Strip, November 18, 2012.
    • An Israeli soldier runs with his weapon during a drill simulating a possible ground invasion into the Gaza Strip, at a base south of the West Bank city of Hebron, November 17, 2012.

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    Comments page of 4
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    by: john237 from: USA
    November 19, 2012 2:33 PM
    Israel is really testing her American supplied fire arms, missiles and the most trusted iron dome missile shield to prepare for the bigger war of the Century, the coming IRAN WAR. The current Israeli war is not going to end unless the grand testing operation is complete and received green signal from the Pentagon.

    by: Mauricio Zuniga from: California
    November 19, 2012 2:31 PM
    Hamas is commiting the Genocide of the Palestinian peoples by constantly launching missles at Israel, and spitting at any cease fires or anything put on the table. The Palestinian people need to be liberated from the terrorists(and in doing so, their ignorance), and this is the first step. Step two is the Palestinians uprising against Hamas, so they stop using them as a political shield.

    by: fajko
    November 19, 2012 1:11 PM
    Jewish people really surprise me, they lived through holocaust. They know how it is when you oppress a group of people, why are they letting Israel oppress Palestinians? If you don't want Jewish to be affiliated with modern genocide then stop supporting actions of this country called Israel even know it is a Jewish country. Make it better fairer. And all the talk of this being defensive is just that, talk.

    by: Mauricio Zuniga from: California, USA
    November 19, 2012 12:47 PM
    "To maintain this, the IDF is also taking different technical measures to warn the Gazan population: Throwing leaflets from planes, making phone calls, sending text message and other techniques." So how can it be genocide if its sui-geno-cide?

    by: Dr from: New York City
    November 19, 2012 12:38 PM
    I only care about the civilians in Gaza ;they are losing their lives and properties. Please take into the consideration that Israel initiated this attack. let's spread the peace in the world.

    by: NVO from: USA
    November 19, 2012 12:15 PM

    The escalating violence between Israel and Hamas in Gaza is providing a perfect example of the false moral equivalence that profoundly threatens the state of Israel.

    For more than a decade, millions of Israelis have lived under the constant threat of rocket attacks. Thousands of rockets have rained down on towns of peaceful citizens. In one day at the end of October, militants in the Gaza strip fired more than 65 rockets into Israeli civilian populations.

    On Wednesday, the Israeli military took action to dismantle this threat. It did what the American military does routinely: assassinated a terrorist with a drone strike. The man, Ahmed Jabari, was a senior member of the military wing of Hamas, the terrorist group risen to government power in Gaza. He was responsible for numerous numerous acts of violence against Israelis.

    Militants in Gaza responded with a barrage of hundreds of rockets on Israeli civilians, killing at least three and injuring several others.

    Israel then launched a mission to destroy dozens of launch sites that it had identified in the Gaza strip. Satellite imagery released by the military shows that often militants had attempted to shield these sites by placing them next to civilian locations suchs as apartment buildings, mosques, and markets.

    Today, forces in Gaza launched a long range rocket (possibly supplied by the Iranians) capable of hitting Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. It hit a settlement just south of Jerusalem, Gush Etzion. Yesterday another rocket reached the Tel Aviv area for the first time since 1991.

    And what is the response of the UN Secretary General to Israel’s self-defense in the face of a decade of rocket attacks, a million people driven into shelter this week by the barrage, and long range missile strikes close to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv?

    “Israel must exercise maximum restraint.” That is what his spokesman told reporters today.

    The Secretary General “urgently appeals to all concerned to do everything under their command to stop this dangerous escalation and restore calm. Rocket attacks are unacceptable and must stop at once. Israel must exercise maximum restraint.”

    The dishonesty of this moral equivalency is stunning. Militants and terrorists launch thousands of rockets into Israel, killing or injuring dozens of its citizens. Israel, a sovereign country with an obligation to defend and protect its people, acts to destroy these launch sites, which the militants hid intentionally among civilians, and the UN responds as though Israel is guilty of reckless violence.

    How can there be a peace process under a discourse that affords a terrorist group diplomatic status and calls for “restraint” in the self-defense of a sovereign country? The United States should formally protest the UN's one-sided statement.




    by: Mauricio Zuniga from: California
    November 19, 2012 11:34 AM
    Awesome! Dont stop til they do. Im so proud of Israel growing balls. It shows they faith in their God of old. Wheres allah now, rock throwing, smelly savages?

    by: bungi1231 from: California, USA
    November 19, 2012 11:22 AM
    As this conflict goes on, the fact of the matter: who is the aggressor and who is the defender(?) is buried and forgotten. Your headline implies Israel is the aggressor. Please may I remind you that Israel is the DEFENDER. Please consider how you word your headlines. This conflict reminds me of the smaller boy bully of Australia.
    In Response

    by: blurbwriter from: UK
    November 20, 2012 11:24 PM
    To Suripto: 16,000+ rockets fired from Gaza over the last 10 years and most of them SINCE Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. This makes it very clear who is the defender.
    In Response

    by: Suripto from: Indonesia
    November 19, 2012 9:06 PM
    Do you really know who the aggressor and who the defender is? How could you say that Israel is the DEFENDER? How could you prove your statements? Please consider how your statement about Israel, and Please learn more to something that you don't know really well. You just knew from the News Media from U.S which usually oppose Islamic Countries. What a shame. My suggestion for you, read more about Israel and Palestine

    by: fajko
    November 19, 2012 11:07 AM
    Let us not forget that Israel occupies Palestinians. In this day of age for us free people to support anyone occupying anyone else is unbelievable. Gaza is a jail controlled by warden Israel and its army of hateful thugs. It reminds me of black people in american south (won't call them African American because to me they are American period) half a century ago. When a group of white officers beat up peaceful protester they arrest him and charge him with assaulting po and resisting arrest.
    This injustice going on in Gaza is a shame for all of us. We will be all judged by god for standing by and not doing anything while innocent died.

    by: TheTruth from: DC
    November 19, 2012 11:04 AM
    The Palestinian people and those living in Gaza in particular are striped from freedom and basic necessities. The Israelis army takes Palestinians to jail, torture them freely refuse them travel permits to the West bank. These people wait hours in line to cross the borders daily to go to work. Their children don’t have enough schools and have trouble pursuing higher education. The word freedom that we take for granted is non-existent in the Palestinian lands.
    Yes, Hamas is launching rockets across the border; but Israel refuses to recognize them although they were elected by the Palestinian people and has forced them into military and financial blockage. I don’t call this terrorism; this is resistance from the occupation.
    In Response

    by: blurbwriter from: UK
    November 20, 2012 11:28 PM
    Gaza is not occupied. Israel withdrew in 2005. The response from Hamas was rocket fire continuously, every day since.
    Egypt has a 19Km border with Gaza - why doesn't it open it to allow freedom of movement?
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    November 20, 2012 7:35 AM
    You are absolutely correct. Israel has been oppressing the people of Palestine for years. Israel tries knocking them into the stone age every several years. The Israeli government is extremely trigger happy. I am suprised they didn't take out Irans facilities, they are more of a threat than the people of Gaza.
    In Response

    by: A from: Canada
    November 19, 2012 12:26 PM
    Firing rockets indiscrimantly into civilian populations by Hamas is not a form of resistance, its terrorism. Now if hamas only targeted the israeli military then perhaps you could call it resistance.
    In Response

    by: Mauricio Zuniga from: Cali
    November 19, 2012 11:56 AM
    Because Jews came from where? If God gave them this land, and your against it, what does that make you? The first peoples to accuse everyone of being devils! Talk about decieved! LOL
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