News / Middle East

Israeli Commandos Briefly Enter Gaza

  • Palestinians carry the body of Islamic Jihad militant Mohammed Sowelim, who was killed in an Israeli air strike, during his funeral in Jabaliya refugee camp, in the northern Gaza Strip, July 12, 2014.
  • Palestinians walk around the ruins of the Al-Tawfeeq Mosque after it was hit by an overnight Israeli missile strike in the Nuseirat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip, July 12, 2014.
  • Palestinians mourn their relative in the morgue of the Shifa hospital in Gaza City on July 12, 2014.
  • Palestinians wash blood from a sidewalk where seven Palestinians where killed in an Israeli air strike in Gaza City, July 12, 2014.
  • Palestinian firefighters try to extinguish a cargo terminal at Karni Crossing between Israel and Gaza after it was shelled by Israeli tanks, according to terminal's employees, July 12, 2014.
  • A Palestinian carries a damaged wheelchair as he walks amidst the debris of a rehabilitation center, which police said was struck by a shell from an Israeli tank, in the northern Gaza Strip, July 12, 2014.
  • Israelis take cover in a shelter as a siren warning of incoming rockets is heard around the southern city of Beersheba, Israel, July 12, 2014.
  • An Israeli hugs his child outside a shelter as a siren warning of incoming rockets is heard around the southern city of Beersheba, Israel, July 12, 2014.
  • Israelis salvage belongings from a house of their relative after it was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip Saturday in the southern city of Beersheba, Israel, July 12, 2014.
  • Israeli soldiers on an armored personnel carrier move to a new position on the Israel-Gaza Border, July 12, 2014.
VOA News

Israel briefly deployed ground troops inside the Gaza Strip for the first time early Sunday as its military warned northern Gaza residents to evacuate their homes, part of a widening offensive that began against Hamas last week.

Neither Israel nor Palestinian militants show signs of agreeing to a cease-fire, despite calls by the United Nations Security Council and others to end the increasingly bloody six-day offensive that has claimed at least 160 Palestinian lives.

Several Israelis have been wounded in the rocket attacks, but there have been no fatalities.

With Israel massing tanks and soldiers at Gaza's borders, some fear that could signal a wider ground offensive that would cause heavy casualties.

Officials said Israeli commandos targeted a rocket-launching site Sunday during the brief raid. Authorities said four Israeli soldiers were slightly wounded during an exchange of gunfire with Palestinian fighters.

Israel also continued its airstrikes, targeting areas across Gaza early Sunday, ignoring international appeals for a cease-fire as the conflict entered its sixth day.

“We don't know when the operation will end,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a Cabinet meeting Sunday. “It might take a long time.”

An Israel strike overnight flattened the home of the Gaza police chief, killing at least 18 people in the deadliest attack since Israel launched its offensive on Gaza Tuesday.

The strike also badly damaged a nearby mosque, wounding scores of people.  Some worshippers are still believed to be trapped in the rubble.

An Israeli police explosives expert carries the remains of a rocket that landed in Ashkelon, Israel, July 13, 2014.An Israeli police explosives expert carries the remains of a rocket that landed in Ashkelon, Israel, July 13, 2014.
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An Israeli police explosives expert carries the remains of a rocket that landed in Ashkelon, Israel, July 13, 2014.
An Israeli police explosives expert carries the remains of a rocket that landed in Ashkelon, Israel, July 13, 2014.

An earlier airstrike Saturday also hit a mosque. Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson Lieutenant Libby Weiss said the building was being used by Hamas militants. 

"It's important to note that this was a mosque that was used almost entirely for Hamas operations. Meaning as a structure perhaps, yes it was a mosque, but it was very clear that it was being used, and I would say almost hijacked by Hamas for terror purposes," Weiss said.
 
The United Nations humanitarian affairs office has said the majority of Palestinians killed in Israeli strikes since operations began have been civilians.
 
Several Israeli citizens have been wounded by Palestinian rockets, which are being launched at longer range than in previous conflicts. Israeli defense forces credit their Iron Dome missile defense system, which intercepts rockets in mid-air, with preventing greater casualties.
 
Netanyahu said Friday Israel is considering all military options despite international calls for a cease-fire.

On Sunday, Netanyahu blamed Hamas for the ongoing military offensive in the Gaza Strip, saying responsibility for any casualties lies with the Palestinian militants.

Israel also accuses Hamas of using Gaza's civilians as human shields by firing rockets from there.

Netanyahu went on to blame Iran for funding, arming and training Hamas, saying that the meeting in Vienna on Iran's nuclear program must prevent the Iranians from developing a nuclear weapon.

If they fail to do so, Netanyahu said, "What is happening around here and what is happening in the Middle East, will be several times worse or maybe beyond that."

Britain, France and Turkey have expressed concerns about the loss of life in Gaza. U.S. President Barack Obama said the U.S. is willing to help facilitate a cessation of hostilities, while backing "Israel's right to defend itself.

Dr. Mahdi Abdul Hadi, head of a Palestinian academic society in Jerusalem (PASSIA), said both Israeli and Palestinian leadership have shown little willingness to back down.

"Netanyahu is refusing any reconciliation, any negotiations, any halting of the operations and he is carrying on the mission as usual," Hadi said. "The same thing, Hamas is going forward as planned, saying whatever will happen will happen to all of us."
 
Israel claims to have hit more than 1,100 targets inside Gaza since operations began. The military has called up more than 30,000 reservists and is now weighing whether to begin ground operations in Gaza.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier will travel to the Middle East on Monday, a foreign ministry spokeswoman said, where he will meet Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, German media reported.

Steinmeier called for an end to “Hamas rocket terror,” in comments to newspaper Bild am Sonntag published on Sunday, and urged a “coalition of reason” to stop the conflict escalating.

UN calls for cease-fire

The U.N. Security Council called for a cease-fire in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In a statement Saturday, the 15-member council called for a de-escalation of the violence, a restoration of calm, and a reinstitution of a 2012 Egyptian-brokered cease-fire between the two sides.

This is the first official response to the crisis by the powerful U.N. body, which has been divided on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Palestinian officials say the death toll from Israel's offensive has risen to about 160, with Israel continuing to strike sites believed to be strategic to Hamas and other militant groups.

WATCH: Gaza Fighting Takes Civilian Toll - report by Zlatica Hoke

Gaza Fighting Takes Civilian Tolli
X
Zlatica Hoke
July 12, 2014 10:47 AM
Fighting between Hamas forces in Gaza and Israel's military has left about 100 people dead in the coastal Mediterranean strip, most of them civilians. Israelis living close to the border with Gaza have a well-developed system of air raids and bomb shelters where they retreat as needed. In Gaza, there are no sirens and no bomb shelters. Zlatica Hoke reports on how civilians on both sides are faring fare during the conflict.

Gabe Jaselow contributed to this report from Jerusalem. Some information for this report comes from AP, AFP and Reuters.

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by: meanbill from: USA
July 13, 2014 1:22 PM
CRAZY isn't it? ... A Jew born in any country or anywhere in the world, is a citizen of Israel, with a UN given sovereign right to live in the State of Israel, with borders preceding the (6) day 1967 war..... (And yet), the Palestinians who's ancestors lands predate the Israelites coming to the promised land from Egypt, can't live on the land their ancestors gave them, that has been taken from them by the UN, and now by the continuous Israeli expansions?

ONLY Jews and Christians believe that God gave the land to the Jews, and then the UN agreed...... and the Jews and the Christians support whatever pretext the Israeli's use, for their expansion from the UN pre-1967 State of Israel borders, and it's justification for taking more and more of the Palestinian lands, isn't it? .... The disagreement is; the Palestinians want Israel to go back to the pre-1967 borders, and the Israeli's say they won't go back, (and not even God), will make either side change their minds, and there'll never be a compromise on the pre-1967 borders....... SOMEBODY owes the Palestinians for the ancestral lands, (that predate the Israelites arrival from Egypt), and were taken by force from them, don't they? ...... REALLY

predate

by: Til Fama from: Washington, D.C.
July 13, 2014 9:46 AM
Israel gave advance warning to the residents of Northern Gaza that they should evacuate to the south. Then Hamas Radio ordered those same residents to stay put. Now we know who is trying to minimize civilian casualties and who wants to maximize them.
In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 14, 2014 11:33 PM
Absolutely! If I was warned in advance, no matter what my pride and opinion may be, I would definitely get my family out of harm's way!!!!!! But when you have people like Meanbill in the world, then idiots like him will get more attention than people with common sense.
In Response

by: meanbill from: USA
July 14, 2014 2:10 PM
Like Hamas radio says... Let the Palestinian people stand on their rooftops, and shout out to the whole world, "You can take my house, and my small piece of land, but only, over my dead body" .... and then, lets see what the Israeli's will do? ..... REALLY

by: Ali baba from: New york
July 13, 2014 6:08 AM
There is no solution To Israelis -Palestinian crisis. It is another tragedy that many people lose their lives. There are two millions are living in Gaza .they are living in extreme poverty. Poverty gives ideal environment to grow extremist who are well paid. Extremist are well feed . Extremist know the consequences of their action. They know that is real will retaliate . so ,Why they kill the three teens ? the possible Reasons is to divert people attention from what is going to Syria. I believe the dirty politics in middle East is the reasons behind all the problems in the middle East. they paid money to kill Israeli teens So ISIL are taking a break from newspaper and people of concern of human right abuse .they create another conflict for Sunni can taking advantage in Iraq . Since the American are not sophisticated to understand politics of garbage which resulted that christen are real victim because they have nothing to do for Sunni and Shia
In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 14, 2014 11:37 PM
That would be correct. All this murder in the name of religion and politics. If Palestinians really and truly cared about heir own people the way the Israelis do, then the Palestinians wouldn't even bother with Israel! They could grow and prosper and be a thriving nation for it's people, the way the Israelis did. The Palestinians were there a long time, and did nothing! The Arabs expelled all Jews from that region long ago, and it remained a poor area since! The Israelis come and turn it into a first world area. If I were a Palestinian, I would be angry with my Arab neighbors, who offered no assistance in developing the lands of Palestine before the Israelis did. They had plenty of centuries to do just that!!!!!

by: meanbill from: USA
July 12, 2014 7:30 PM
THE WISE MAN said it; .. The whole Islamic world is erupting in chaos and violence, because of the US, EU, and NATO countries interference in the politics of all these Islamic countries, (including Israel)..... and the leaders of the US, EU, and NATO countries haven't a clue, on what their political interference in arming Muslims to fight other Muslims is doing, to provoke more and more sectarian violence, killings, destruction and wars..... (They opened Pandora's Box, and let chaos and violence out, didn't they?). ..... (They either didn't know it, or they just didn't care?).
In Response

by: Steve Donnelly from: California
July 13, 2014 10:00 AM
History shows us this is long running fued is based on difference in religion and not so much any foreign countries involved. There may never be peace among these people.

by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
July 12, 2014 5:05 PM
If the Hamas want cease fire, she should stop firing rockets into Israel. One the requirement of the cease fire, Hamas have to agree to the fact that Israel has the right to live like everybody else. She have to agree that she want to dwell in peace with Israel. Becuz the fact of the matter Israel is not going nowhere, secondly there is no nation in the Middle East that can remove Israel out of her land. So both Arabs and Jews have to agree to the fact that they want to live in peace for the sake of the common. Citizens. Cuz this is a continue fight. If you fire Rockets at Israel, Israel will do the same.
VOA HAS TO POINT FINGER TO THE PALESTINIAN FOR THE DEATH OF THE PALSTINIAN IN THE MOSQUE.( THIS BOILS DOWN TO THE SAME THING I HAVE BEEN SAYING, WHAT GIVE THEM THE RIGHT TO ROCKETS INTO ISRAEL AND ISRAEL CANNOT DO THE SAME?) this how is will always be until Hamas recognized that the Jews has the right to live. So we all have agreed that the Palestinian are not using rocks as the news media have been putting it forth. AND TO VOA, EVERYONE KNOWS THAT YOUR NEWS IS BIAS. THIS IS NOT LEROY PADMORE ALONE, LOT OF PEOPLE ARE SEEING WHAT I HAVE BEEN SAYING, THIS IS AMERICA, HERE WE STAND FOR THE TRUE, WE SPEAK THE TRUE, FREEDOM OF SPEECH. BUT WE STILL LOVE YOU VOA
In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 14, 2014 11:46 PM
Tell you what, Leroy, if you send Meanbill to the Gaza Strip, then I will always support your points-of-view!!!! Only if you tattoo the Star of David on his forehead, arms, legs, all over, first!!!! I'll cover all costs, no problem.
In Response

by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
July 12, 2014 10:10 PM
I don't care how much Iranian made rocket Hamas has, still she cannot fight Israel nor defeat them. Even Iran herself cannot fight Israel, since 1998 Ahmadinejad has been saying Israel should be wipe off the map, how has come and gone, Israel is still there. Right there to the same place it has always been. If any of those Arab world could fight Israel, by this time, they would have done that. But they know they are playing with fire. Hamas is just a rebel group, a piece of bread for Israel. If your Palestinian supporter don't call for cease fire, Israel will level Gaza. There will be no Gaza.
In Response

by: meanbill from: USA
July 12, 2014 8:00 PM
Hamas is surrounded in Gaza by Israel, and the only solution to solving this conflict between them, (is not acceptable to any of participants), and it's the unsolvable problem, like when the irresistible force has met the immovable object..... (but it's only a matter of time), because the rockets get bigger, and more powerful, with a longer range, don't they?...... and THEN?

by: Taiwo from: Nigeria
July 12, 2014 4:23 PM
There can never be any ceasefire on till terrorists are smoke out and élimination, Israël wé are spiritually behind you
In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 14, 2014 11:47 PM
God bless everyone, Palestinians included. Good grief! Religious extremism isn't just an Islamic term!
In Response

by: TrustGod from: US
July 13, 2014 9:55 AM
Agreed, we are spiritually behind ISRAEL ...GOD BLESS ISRAEL...

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
July 12, 2014 2:56 PM
Since the Palestinians will not stop firing rockets into Israel, Israel should not accept any form of cease fire until it has destroyed all Hamas missile launching sites. Again to stop accumulating blames for the death of Palestinians or striking a mosque (where else should be the right target if not where the militants are trained and fueled?), Israel should quickly revert to ground offensive immediately to at least push the miscreants backward away from where their missiles can reach Israel to cause further troubles. There is no need for further delay, the world has seen that Hamas is the aggressor here, and Israel has all the right in the world to defend itself. If not for the iron dome, perhaps Israel would be feeling the pains of greater losses than it's feeling right now - just imagine what damage over 1000 rockets/missiles can cause to lives and property!. So, to quickly embark on phase 2 of the campaign, Israel should drive Hamas out of the region, after all no one, not even the Palestinians, not Saudi Arabia, wants it for any reason. On the contrary, Israel will be doing a whole lot of favor to the region by seeing off Hamas for good.

by: Anonymous
July 12, 2014 12:19 PM
No More blood in palestine

by: meanbill from: USA
July 12, 2014 11:24 AM
THE WISE MAN said it; .. The final battle in that final war, will begin and end, at the center of the earth, at the "Dome on the Rock" or "Solomon's Temple" in Jerusalem Israel..... and it seems that final battle will begin, sooner than later?


by: Andre from: Canada
July 12, 2014 10:22 AM
Hamas hides in residential areas such as apartment building rooftops and under women's skirts. No wonder people are snitching on them to the Israelis, they're afraid the Israelis will return fire into their neighborhood. But of course Hamas wants to see some women and children killed for "anti-Israel publicity" in the media, and because they feel safer themselves.
In Response

by: Jeeper from: USA
July 13, 2014 10:04 AM
I think "anyone" would prefer that civilians didn't have to suffer or be killed in "any" war, but how can you expect one side to fight with restrictions and both hands tied behind their backs "selectively trying only military positions" when the other side is flinging weapons at random targets?
In Response

by: prince irhete from: nigeria
July 12, 2014 1:07 PM
Women and children photos are always put up to get attention.
Let's not forget how it all started. The solution to all this is negotiations. You take, I take; you loose some and win some.
Why fire a rocket from a residential area and mosque?
The leaders should sit and talk. Enough of killings.
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