News / Middle East

Israeli Missiles Strike Gaza Apartment and Office Tower

Palestinians gather as  rescue workers search for victims from under the rubble of a house, which witnesses said was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike, in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, Aug. 25, 2014.
Palestinians gather as rescue workers search for victims from under the rubble of a house, which witnesses said was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike, in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, Aug. 25, 2014.
VOA News

Israeli missiles hit one of the tallest buildings in Gaza early Tuesday, wounding at least 20 Palestinians.

The missiles struck the 13-story office and apartment tower after dark following Israeli warnings that an attack was coming.

Israeli airstrikes killed at least eight people Monday while the army said 80 Hamas rockets fell on Israeli territory, causing no casualties.

Egypt, which led failed peace talks earlier this month, is again appealing to Israel and Hamas to call a truce and reopen negotiations.

Cairo is proposing opening key crossings into Gaza to let in humanitarian aid and material to repair damaged buildings.

On Monday, Palestinian officials appeared to accept the Egyptian proposal. There was no word from the Israelis.

Nearly two months of Israeli airstrikes in response to Hamas has killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, including close to 500 children. Sixty-four Israeli soldiers and four civilians have been killed.

There have been several cease-fires, and peace talks in Cairo. But violence resumed quickly when contentious negotiations broke down over Israel's demand that Hamas be disarmed and the Palestinians' call for an end to the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is telling Israelis to be prepared for the conflict to stretch into September. He also warns Gaza Palestinians to leave sites where Hamas militants are operating. He said any site used by Hamas is a target for Israeli forces.

Thousands of homes in the Gaza Strip have been destroyed or damaged in the conflict. Nearly 500,000 people have been displaced in the territory where Palestinians, citing Israeli attacks that have hit schools and mosques, say no place is safe.

Meanwhile, Egypt pressed the warring sides to stop fighting and resume negotiations to forge an enduring truce in Gaza. Cairo proposed opening key crossings into the blockaded territory and allowing humanitarian aid and reconstruction material to be taken into Gaza, where there is widespread destruction from the Israeli attacks aimed at Hamas.

Palestinian officials seemed willing to accept terms of the Egyptian proposal, but there was no immediate response from Israel.

There have been several temporary truces that halted fighting, the latest last week. But violence resumed quickly when contentious negotiations broke down over Israel's demand that Hamas be disarmed and the Palestinians' call for an end to the blockade and the opening of a seaport.

Israelis moving from border areas

The Israeli Defense Ministry said it is helping Israelis leave homes close to high-risk areas along the Gaza border in what is effectively the government's first large-scale voluntary evacuation effort in the nearly eight weeks of fighting.

The government has come under criticism for its inability to stop mortar fire and anger has risen since the death last week of a 4-year-old Israeli boy who was killed when a Palestinian mortar landed in Nahal Oz, a kibbutz near the Gaza border.

Mortars are usually fired from a short distance away, meaning they are less likely to be detected by Israeli's air-raid or anti-missile defense systems. The short-range weapon also gives people little time to scramble for cover.

Livnat Ginzbourg, a spokeswoman for Israeli communities along the Gaza border, told The Associated Press about 100 families were leaving their homes on Monday, following a similar number the previous day.

Ginzbourg told the AP that Monday's evacuation was the first time the government was coordinating and financing temporary accommodation for all families wishing to flee.

Defense Ministry spokesman Jonathan Mosery stressed Israelis were not begin told to evacuate the border areas, but that the government was assisting Israelis who live up to five kilometers (3 miles) from the Gaza border by paying for accommodations in areas farther away.

Cease-fire efforts

The latest escalation in the conflict erupted last week after a six-day temporary truce collapsed. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said there were efforts underway Monday to reach an extended cease-fire agreement, but neither side seemed to be easing its attacks.

Hamas, the dominant movement in the Gaza Strip, has said it will not stop fighting until the eight-year Israeli-Egyptian blockade on the enclave of 1.8 million people is lifted.

"There are efforts and calls in order to reach a cease-fire agreement but until this moment there is nothing to that effect. And until the aggression is stopped and the Palestinian demands are met, the resistance will continue protecting the Palestinian people in confronting the ongoing Israeli aggression," Zuhri said.

Both Israel and Egypt view Hamas as a security threat and are demanding guarantees that weapons will not enter the economically crippled territory.

Israel recalled its negotiators from Cairo after a cease-fire collapsed.

In Tehran, a commander in Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, General Amir-Ali Hajizadeh, said Iran would "accelerate" the arming of the Palestinians in retaliation for what it claims was an Israeli spy drone deployed for surveillance of an Iranian nuclear enrichment site.

Iran says it shot down the drone Saturday. Iranian state television Monday showed pictures purported to be pieces of the destroyed aircraft, although no Israeli markings were evident. Hajizadeh said the drone was not flown from Israel, but "from a country in the region."

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AP. 

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Comment Sorting
by: Not Again from: Canada
August 25, 2014 10:01 PM
The latest "office building" struck by Israel, continued exploding for hours, a clear sign that it contained an arms manufacturing facitity, or it was in fact a sgnificant weapons storage arsenal building.
This latest conflict has resulted in eleven ceasifires, every one of them broken by Hamas, each time two or three hours before it was to expire. In addition, twice this past week the humanitarian entry point into Gaza, from Israel, was hit by Hamas fire, causing casualties, amongst civilian humanitarian relief wokers; most of them from Israel, they were trying to expedite the aid to help the civilians in Gaza, but Hamas was not happy with it.
All in all, we will continue to see Pal and Isr civilians suffering, and the conflict is slowly escalating. Hamas appears to have no intention to ease the suffering of the Pals; by using them as shields and firing near/from civilian objectives more casualties will occur, because it attracts Israeli counterfire, the cycle of violence started by Hamas is in full swing.
We are starting to see, once again, terrorists actions in the Sinai, against Egyptian forces which are putting an all out effort to stop the arms smuggling into Gaza. The Egyptian gvmt appears to be readying for another significant counter-offensive in the Northern Sinai to put an end to Hamas sponsored attacks on its forces in the Sinai.
The conflict continues to harden the positions of all the conflicted parties. Every one knows the solution, Gaza needs to be demilitarized under/by international forces, the economy of Gaza needs to be developed.
The key to peace is in the hands of the international donors = no point in developing Gaza, if Hamas will start a new war in 18 to 20 months, and waste critical resources in a terror campaign. Hamas has wasted billions of donors' money, in persuing an armed conflict, rather than in ensuring peace and the development of Gaza for the benefit of its people. The development of a demilitarized Gaza will ensure a better future for its Pal population.
Firing rockets/projectiles at Israel, and expecting for Israel not to respond is an inane strategy, that has failed twice before; it is failing now, and it will fail again in 18-20 months, unless Gaza is demilitarized; the failed strategy of having Israel fire back, is not any kind of reasonable strategy for any one, and especially not for the Pal civs from Gaza. It is a strategy that just results in casualties, more poverty, and no development. Each cycle of violence makes Gaza ever poorer, thanks to Hamas.

by: maithe from: Paris, France
August 25, 2014 6:06 PM
This conflict is going from one broken cease fire to the next one. It seems obvious that Hamas will not stop launching rockets and mortars from Gaza. So it's hard to believe that a new and longer cease fire -Egypt seems to suggest a month !!- will solve the problem.... The conflict is not finished yet....

by: Anthonybellchambers from: London UK
August 25, 2014 10:45 AM

Mr Netanyahu's strategic Grand Plan is to govern not just the 6.1 million Jews currently in Israel but all 13.9 million Jews at present living peacefully in America, France, Britain and around the world. Unfortunately, they haven't been consulted as to whether they want to leave the various countries of their birth to live in Mr Netanyahu's expansionist, military state behind a two metre high security wall and at war with virtually all of the indigenous peoples of the region in, arguably, the most dangerous place on earth for anyone of the Jewish faith.

How is he trying to implement this strategy? The answer is by the engendering of antisemitism around the world as an entirely expected consequence of his continuing illegal land grabs in the Occupied Territories and his policy of assassinating his enemies and killing thousands of civilians in the process including hundreds of women and children.

Mr Netanyahu is, of course, acutely aware that state-sponsored terrorism will inculcate enmity both from the families of victims in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and Iran as well as in London and Dubai - but also in democratic and non-democratic states, worldwide - and even in the United States where the American electorate is increasingly unhappy with the power of the unelected Israel lobby upon Congress.

There is a contention that Mr Netanyahu has over-reached both himself and his country by his illegal expansion and military adventures in the most sensitive, geo-political region of not only the Middle East but of the world, today. And that is a bad omen for everyone, but particularly for the millions of members of the Jewish Diaspora.
In Response

by: _MDE from: Thailand
August 26, 2014 3:55 AM
It's all very well for Israel to say that they are only acting in self-defence by launching missiles and bombs at targets in Gaza, whether they be schools or hospitals or apartment blocks claiming that Hamas are to blame for launching missiles at Israel from these sites, but the fact is that many hundreds of innocent Palestinian women and children have been killed or horribly maimed as a result of the Israeli missiles and bombs. Now just suppose that Hamas had launched their missile attacks at Israel from within say an Israeli embassy or an American embassy would Israel still be so keen to retaliate? I somehow think not. They would not dare to do so. So the message seems to be that it is acceptable for the Israelies to kill and maim women and children but only if they are Palestinian.
In Response

by: Peter
August 25, 2014 11:56 AM
Exactly what is Hamas doing that prompts military strikes from Israel and has resulted in a defensive wall being built. However Hamas has then chosen to tunnel and strike at Israelis.Given these facts it is incumbent on Israel to effectively militarily deal with Hamas at every opportunity, for as long as they embark on their terrorist forays and resist peace at any cost. There is nothing illegal about Israel's action and they don't deliberateley target civillians - Hamas will never meet the IDF on the battlefield, but rather mingle with the civillian population to strike at Israel.

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