News / Middle East

Israel Strikes Dozens of Gaza Targets in Heavy Fighting

  • Palestinians run following what police said was an Israeli air strike on a house in Gaza City, July 9, 2014.
  • Smoke and debris rise after an Israeli strike on the Gaza Strip seen from the Israeli side of the Israel Gaza Border, July 9, 2014.
  • Mourners carry the bodies of Palestinians during their funeral in the town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, July 9, 2014.
  • Israelis run towards a bomb shelter as a siren sounds warning of incoming rockets in the southern city of Ashkelon, July 9, 2014.
  • An Israeli looks at damage to his home in a kibbutz near border with the Gaza Strip, July 9, 2014.
  • An Israeli border police officer surveys the damaged caused to a structure after it was hit by a rocket, near the border with the Gaza Strip, July 9, 2014.
  • Smoke and fire rise from an Israeli missle strike in Rafah, Gaza, July 8, 2014.
  • A police officer gestures as Palestinians inspect the remains of a car which police said was targeted in an Israeli air strike in Gaza City, July 8, 2014.
  • Palestinians gather around the remains of a car which police said was targeted in an Israeli air strike in Gaza City, July 8, 2014.
  • Palestinians search through the rubble of a house destroyed by an overnight Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, July 8, 2014.
  • Palestinians try to salvage what they can from the rubble of a house destroyed by an overnight Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, July 8, 2014.
Images from Gaza
VOA News

In the heaviest fighting in the Gaza Strip in nearly two years, Israel launched dozens of air raids Tuesday as it edged closer to a ground invasion to halt incoming Palestinian rocket attacks.  

Israel is prepared for a campaign against Hamas militants in Gaza that “will not end within days,” its defense chief, Moshe Ya'alon, said in a statement. Its security cabinet also authorized the military to call up 40,000 reservists in addition to the 1,500 already mobilized.

 

Israel, Gaza, West Bank mapIsrael, Gaza, West Bank map
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Israel, Gaza, West Bank map
Israel, Gaza, West Bank map

The Israeli army said its air attacks, part of an assault it called "Operation Protective Edge," struck more than 100 sites, including houses and rocket launch sites. Palestinian officials said the air attacks killed at least 19 people, including three children.

Islamist militants continued to bombard Israel, with at least one rocket landing in the northern city of Hadera, some 100 kilometers from Gaza, Israeli officials said it was the farthest a rocket from Gaza has reached into Israel. 

Air-raid sirens sounded in Tel Aviv, and the Jerusalem Post reported that Israel intercepted an incoming rocket over the capital city.

Israel reported no casualties in the unprecedented attack.

In another skirmish, Israel said it killed four Hamas militants who landed on a Mediterranean Sea beach in southern Israel near Gaza and attacked a military base.

The West weighs in

In Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest condemned the Hamas rocket attacks and defended Israel's right to defend itself.

“We strongly condemn the continuing rocket fire into Israel and the deliberate targeting of civilians by terrorist organizations in Gaza,” Earnest said. “No country can accept rocket fire aimed at civilians, and we support Israel's right to defend itself against these vicious attacks.''

The European Union condemned the “indiscriminate” rocket firing into Israel and the Jewish state’s retaliatory firing, saying in a statement that “the safety and security of all civilians must be of paramount importance.” It called for an immediate cease-fire.

A show of force

Israeli tanks were seen massing near the Gaza border, and a military spokesman said the army was recruiting reserve troops for a potential ground mission.

Israeli President Shimon Peres said his country has no choice but to respond to the Hamas rockets fired into southern Israel.

"Hamas was offered by the quartet to stop shooting, recognize Israel, declare that you are for peace and you will be legitimized. They refused all the three,” Peres said.

“Instead, they cut tunnels, to shoot rockets, and they are shooting … hundreds [of]  rockets during the night. Against whom? Against civilian people. There is no way to compromise between death and life. There is no way to compromise between peace and war," he added.

Teens’ abductions fueled conflict

Violence flared on the Israel-Gaza border last month after Israel arrested hundreds of Hamas activists in the occupied West Bank following the disappearance there of three Israeli youths on June 12.

Tensions escalated last week when the bodies of the teens – Naftali Frankel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach – were discovered near the southern West Bank city of Hebron on June 30. Two days later, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, a 16-year-old Palestinian Arab, was kidnapping outside his family home. His burned body was found later that morning. Israeli authorities have arrested six suspects, saying they had nationalist motives and belong to an extremist Jewish group.

Both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have condemned the killings and vowed to punish those responsible.

Israeli investigators said Monday that three of the suspects accused of killing Khdeir have confessed to the crime and re-enacted it for authorities.

It is believed Khdeir was killed to avenge the Israeli teens’ deaths.

Israel blames Hamas for the Israeli youths’ deaths.  Hamas has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility in the abduction and killings.

Reprisal rocket attacks

Israel said the offensive was a response to a wave of rocket attacks by the Islamic militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza. 

The Israeli military said that in the past 24 hours, Palestinians had fired more than 100 rockets at Israel, a sharp increase. Some were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system and none that landed caused fatalities, although two people were wounded by shrapnel.

“Over the last few weeks, hundreds of such rockets have been fired," government spokesman Mark Regev said. "We have repeatedly warned Hamas that this must stop. And the Israel Defense Forces are currently acting to put an end to this once and for all.”

Call for calm

Abbas, the Palestinian president, called on Israel to halt the airstrikes immediately and appealed for calm.

“The Palestinian leadership is conducting intensive and urgent contacts with regional and international parties to stop the escalation,” Abbas said.

Abbas, however, has little influence over a Gaza Strip, the Associated Press reported.

Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007, and despite a recent unity deal that ostensibly handed control back to Abbas, the militant group remains the dominant power there.

Smaller and more radical forces than Hamas are also involved in rocket fire from Gaza, according to AP.

Hamas, which admits an escalation in its rocket assault, said  it will not be intimidated by Israeli bombs.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the Palestinian people have the right to resist and defend themselves against what he described as Israeli “aggression.” 

He added the “occupation will pay a heavy price for its crimes.”

U.S. reacts

U.S. President Barack Obama is urging Israelis and Palestinians to "act with reasonableness and restraint" at what he called a dangerous moment between the two sides.

In an article published Tuesday in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Obama said the two sides must protect the innocent and not use "vengeance and retribution." 

Obama also said he still believes it is possible for Israel and the Palestinians to achieve peace, calling that the only path to security in Israel.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday that Secretary of State John Kerry has spoken with leaders from both sides in recent days, reiterating the need to reduce tensions and violence.

"Anytime there are rocket attacks into Israel, we certainly condemn those and we would do so in this case as well,” Psaki said. “And there's no place for violence and increasing tension as we're seeing on the ground. We don't feel that's productive to a peaceful society."

Robert Berger contributed to this report from Jerusalem. Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AP.

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by: David Glassman from: Phila Pa
July 13, 2014 2:59 AM
How is it that with over 700 rockets flying into Israel everyday there isn't one Arab interviewed from Gaza who will admit firing rockets and hatred for Israel? The answer is simple, they are and have always been cowards who hide behind civilians to commit acts of aggression against Israel and then retreat leaving the "innocent civilians" to scream to the media about there plight. Notice then how there isn't one alleged "innocent civilian" who has ever seen a rocket launcher or a member of Hamas firing a rocket into Israel. The US and other Nations are hypocrites who care little for Jews when weighed against Arab oil. It is time for the Jewish people to decide if they want a nation or a rocket destination masquerading as a nation. Attack Gaza with full force. Sooner or later, they will encounter an Arab who will fight in front of a civilian. Then one side or the other will win. The word Terrorist is an Arab quality they earned it and should be held accountable for it. Hamas is a terrorist organization. The US stance against these organizations is reflected in the WTC attacks. Notice they along with their 3000 occupants aren't there anymore.... To do anything but destroy Hamas and their Arab brothers who support them will leave Israel to join with the WTC...it won't be there much longer either.


by: kakang from: anywhere
July 12, 2014 2:36 AM
The Government and the people of Israel are not human, they not have humanity, israel is a greedy devil


by: WISHING FOR PEACE from: FLORIDA
July 10, 2014 12:27 AM
we need to stop giving our tax money to isreali terrorist.
STOP U.S AID to ISREAL!!

The US is supporting an apartheid!!
ISREAL STOP KILLING PALESTINIAN CIVILIANS
ISREAL IS WORSE THAN HITLER!


by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
July 09, 2014 4:50 PM
Listen here kid, I don't have to express my view and the truth on VOA, I have the Jewish radio in Jersey City, I can do that on Facebook, Jerusalem post, TBN, DAYSTAR, GODTV, and of course Fox News, VOA knows all what be saying is the truth. Can the US allow Mexico to fire rockets in the US and they just sit there and do nothing? No country will allowed that. Follow my profile on Google or Facebook, you are. A kid, study history more, it will help you to know the true, or read the Koran. And as I said that fight you are looking for. You will fight all by yourself . Have a nice day


by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
July 09, 2014 2:10 AM
When I was Liberia during the Liberian civil war, I stared listening to VOA radio, I was impressed, But coming to the US and see hoe VOA news are one sided, they are bias in their news, when it comes to people writing their comments, VOA editors only published NEGATIVE COMMENTS ABOUT ISRAEL. VOA is not truthful in her news. She discredit her credibility. THE FREEDOM OF SPEECH IS ONLY FOR THE PALESTINIANS AND THEIR SUPPORTERS. And what give them the right to fired rockets into Israel civilians populated areas, and Israel cannot do the same? Hamas should be held responsible for what is happening, not Israel. VOA please speak the truth. If not, your news are not trustworthy.

In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 09, 2014 8:09 AM
True. Hamas doesn't take responsibility. Not true. VOA does publish your negative comments about Israel. Not True. VOA did just publish your comment about VOA! Not True! VOA has published many of my insults about Israel!!!!


by: George G from: Houston
July 09, 2014 12:52 AM
Its pretty simple . Stop shooting rockets into Israel. Build a secular educational system. Build an economic base. Build a farming industry. Stop preaching intolerance in religious training, create a society that is functional.
Vote Hamas out. Push out the militants. Israel is thriving. Judea is thriving. Arabs living in Israel are at peace and are safe.
Israel cannot give up Judea, it would cut the country in two and make it indefensible. It is true, Israel has had to surround its borders with enclosures and an armed perimeter to protect its citizens from violence. So would you.

In Response

by: mary from: Vancouver
July 09, 2014 12:16 PM
You are sitting on their land, stealing their homes every single day, murdering them every other day, restricting their mobility, enclosing them in a concentration camp like ghetto surrounded by apartheid etc etc etc etc ... and you expect them to shut up? How about you return to where you came from and give the land back to who it belongs, the NATIVE PALESTINIANS, not to who your imaginary book and imaginary friend called God promises it to.

No one has the right to take another man's home no matter what religion they believe in, plain and simple


by: Hally from: Malaysia
July 08, 2014 9:34 PM
Aren't the air strikes killing civilians too? Three children? Are you saying they are militants, so it is okay to kill them?

In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 08, 2014 10:07 PM
Actually, Palestinian children are bred to be militant. It is terrible, but true. They play mock up games, similar to cowboys and indians in the US. But the kids who play the Jew roles, will die and suffer a horrible death. This is just barely scratching the surface of what the Palestinians are indoctinating their children. Should these children be protected, by all of us? Absolutely! Even with our won lives, because no matter what side of the fence the children of the world are on, they should always feel they are protected from these acts of violence.


by: Rachel Raub
July 08, 2014 9:34 PM
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10153367655257316&set=a.279044817315.179332.73528002315&type=1

In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 08, 2014 10:01 PM
That's hysterical Rachel! That's the way the media works! Sucks that the majority of the world is so dammm hungry for the garbage that media pukes out on a daily basis! The media emboldens groups like Hamas, Boko Haram, ISIL, etc because they know the media is on their side! Especially Muslim/Arab related issues. If I were a journalist and covering a story about Israelis and Palestinians, of course I would take the side of the Palestinians! Duh! I want to LIVE! If I report in favor of Israel, then my life, my family's life, my family's family's family's lives are in grave danger. If I report against Israel, then the worst that could happen is not having Lox on my bagel!


by: R Collins from: Los Angeles
July 08, 2014 9:26 PM
"Air-raid sirens sounded in Tel Aviv, and the Jerusalem Post reported that Israel intercepted an incoming rocket over the capital city."

What is the VOA saying?
That Tel Aviv is the capital, or rockets over Jerusalem?

Just asking.


by: HannibalLector from: Richmond, VA
July 08, 2014 9:09 PM
These deaths are nothing more than a religious masturbatory aide. It is very necessary that we kill some humans who are very much like us, just trying to make it. If there was a God, he would be sorely disappointed at the in-ability of these bunch of numbnuts in the middle east to get their act together. I will speak no more because the NSA is watching.

In Response

by: 1worldnow from: Earth
July 08, 2014 11:12 PM
Funny Hannibal, NSA is probably watching me type this as well! Well, there is a God, so relax. He is more than likely on vacation on some tropical galaxy far, far, away! Satan hauled azzz too! He felt he isn't qualified to do business here anymore! For thousands of years of dealing with full grown children, he is tired of us numbnutzees!! This phone call was intercepted by the NSA:

(ring, ring, ring)
(Lucifer) Hello, how may I direct your call? Just one moment, please. (palming the phone) Pssst, God, it's for you again!
(God) What's the area code, Lucy? I have to ask you that everytime!
(Lucifer) I'm not Lucy, you know I hate that! "Ooooh Lucy, I'm home!!!!!" Good grief God, that joke is sooooo old! Hmmmm, let's see, ....oh.....the area code is from the Milky Way galaxy.
(God) Well take a message, Lucinda!
(Lucifer) But these messages are stacking up God, you have a total of 666,666,666,666,666,666,666,666,666,666 messages from the Milky Way galaxy, sir.
(God) Shut up Lucretia, you and your '666's. That so 1950's!
(Lucifer, hanging up) The heck with this, I'm going back to Hell! At least it was more fun there, than here!
(God) Oh Lucious baby, so sensitive. OK, go back to Hell, but get me my beverage first.........with the little umbrella too! Chop chop!!!!

Thank you, you have been a wonderful audience.

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