News / Middle East

Panetta: Gaza Violence Cause for Concern

Luis Ramirez
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is expressing concern about the escalating violence in the Gaza Strip, where Israel has conducted yet another day of airstrikes aimed at militants who have been firing rockets into southern Israel.

Panetta is in Asia promoting the U.S. plan to shift forces to the Asia-Pacific region, but his attention has been called to events in the Middle East.

On Thursday, he was briefed on the situation in Gaza before giving an exclusive interview to VOA in Bangkok.  

“Any time violence springs up in the Middle East, wherever it is, it's cause for concern because you never know quite where it's all going to lead.  I understand the reasons Israel is doing what they're doing,” Panetta said.

In the past year, Israel has been hit by nearly 800 rockets from Gaza and has responded with airstrikes.  

In the wide-ranging interview, Panetta said the violence shows the need for a long-term solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Our hope is, that in striking back, that they can minimize the civilian deaths that are likely to occur. But, I hope in the end that all sides recognize that this is no way to solve the problems of the Middle East.  Ultimately, the hope is that we can get back to try to negotiate a permanent peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians and provide a more permanent peace in that region.” Panetta said.

Another area of special concern for Panetta is Syria, where cross-border attacks have prompted Turkey to ask NATO for Patriot missiles to place along the Syrian border.  Panetta says the U.S. supports that request and that talks with Turkey are under way.

“They have asked that we work with them to try to see what we can do to give them some missile defense capability. And we are working with them. And our hope is that we can help provide that kind of assistance,” Panetta said.

The U.S. has praised the Syrian opposition's formation of a coalition but stopped short of supplying arms to rebels fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad.  

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday announced $30 million in additional humanitarian aid for Syrians affected by the fighting.

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by: Tim Hariss from: USA
November 16, 2012 8:33 PM
I just learned that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood has threatened to blow up the ancient Egyptian monuments... just like the Taliban destroyed the Ancient Hindu Buddha... I can't believe that we are still subsidizing this deplorable Islamic Egyptian regime to the tun of over a Billion Dollars a year!!! What are we doing??? what the hell is wrong with us..??? is that the imbecilic influence of the Arabists in the State Dept...???


by: Darling Bar from: UK
November 16, 2012 5:15 PM

Tasha, excellent comment... you neglected to mention that the scumbags that Assad is fighting against are the Muslim Brotherhood... and they are just like the Hamas in Gaza... and they are spreading across the Middle East... I agree with you that Israel is a God sent to humanity... I love them just as much as you do... but they do make idiotic mistakes... "land for peace" would you believe that stupidity - in the Middle East..!!! let the West know that the Muslim Brotherhood do not pervert the Sunni Qoranic tenets... they give depraved Sunni Qoranic tenets its full perverted expression.

Egypt is threatening to close the Sues Canal... and obliterate the ancient Egyptian monuments... slaughter the Cops - who were once the majority in Egypt... Egypt was once a Coptic Christian country... just like Lebanon was once a Christian country...

I wonder what "incentives" the weak Obama administration is going to offer to this Islamic imbecile just to have him promise to keep the Sues canal open... which he has no power to guarantee... may be build him another Aswan Dam...


by: Tasha Lorimton from: USA
November 16, 2012 2:05 PM
AMAZING...!!! here we have Assad killing 38000 of these scumbags... Jordan is consumed by the Muslim Brotherhood... the same organization that toppled Egypt, the US greatest Arab Ally... and the world is partially amused... now, let Israel take out the rocket launchers of the same scumbags and monopolize all the attention... that is why I love Israel... they are fighting to keep our values uppermost... a fierce liberal diverse democracy... we owe them all the support we can muster... and the Arabs deserve all the contempt we can generate


by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
November 16, 2012 9:18 AM
Hamas is a terrorist proxy organization of Iran; I believe that Iran instructed its proxy (Hamas) to open a new international front to disstract the attention of the international community from the conflict in Syria. In addition these conflicts distract the international community from the ongoing nuclear developments in Iran. There has been a tremendous failure, by some nations, in monitoring the flow of weapons to the Gaza terrorists. The number of weapons they have displayed/fired is clearly indicative that those nations, which promtoted the unilateral withdrawl of Israel from Gaza, failed Israel. Now the Jewish state is left holding the bag. It was many of the EU nations that very much forced the hand of Israe to withdraw from Gazal; now Israeli citizens in the South, are left in a very precarious security situation. It should be self evident now, as to where did much of the financial aid to Gaza go= acquisition of massive quantities of weapons to attack Israeli civilians. It is clear that Israel did not want, nor does it need another war. Israel's reaction so far has been timid, and they have failed to use the type of power/weapons that other countries would use in such terrible situation.

In Response

by: Ralph from: Washington state
November 16, 2012 5:05 PM
Your comments are certainly valid. I believe this is caused in part because of the apparent concern that the US may not assist them if an all out blitz from other Arab countries. This administration has shown a lack of concern for Israel, and without some support things could get serious in short time. Just an added comment. As much as I hate the thought, I believe that Israel has a need to pinpoint schools and hospitals. This type reaction would show these radicals that unfettered missile firing indiscriminately, killing women and children is unacceptable behavior. That is the only way you can get their attention. Either that or turn 10,000 pig loose in Gaza.


by: JohnWV from: USA
November 16, 2012 5:15 AM
Besieged Palestinian Gaza is an experiment in provocation. Stuff one and a half million people into a tiny space, stifle their access to water, electricity, food and medical treatment, destroy their livelihoods, and humiliate them regularly...and, surprise, surprise - they turn hostile. Now why would you want to make that experiment? Because the hostility you provoke is the whole point. Now under attack you can cast yourself as the victim, and call out the helicopter gunships and the F16 attack fighters and the heavy tanks and the guided missiles, and destroy yet more of the pathetic remains of infrastructure that the Palestinian state still has left. And then you can point to it as a hopeless case, unfit to govern itself, a terrorist state, a state with which you couldn't possibly reach an accommodation. And then you can carry on with business as usual, quietly stealing their homeland.


by: JohnWV from: USA
November 16, 2012 5:12 AM
"..Israel has been hit by nearly 800 rockets from Gaza and has responded with airstrikes." Or just maybe, illegally besieged Palestine has suffered numerous Israeli air strikes against civilians and infrastructure and pathetically responded with crude and ineffective rockets.


by: Samantha Churchill from: UK
November 15, 2012 10:13 PM
the World has gone drastic transformation in the last few years... a global awareness of the Islamic metastatic spread across the West has reinvigorated identification with and ardent support and solidarity (and awe) for and with Israel.

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