News / Middle East

Israel Intensifies Gaza Air Strikes

Smoke rises following an Israeli attack on Gaza City, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012.
Smoke rises following an Israeli attack on Gaza City, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012.
VOA News
Israeli war planes slammed dozens of targets Thursday in air raids against militants in the Gaza Strip, a day after an Israeli missile strike on Gaza killed the top military commander of Hamas.

Barrages of rockets were fired back at Israel from Gaza with one strike killing at least three Israelis in an apartment complex, bringing the combined death toll on both sides to 15.

Gaza City, Gaza - Click to enlargeGaza City, Gaza - Click to enlarge
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Gaza City, Gaza - Click to enlarge
Gaza City, Gaza - Click to enlarge
VOA's Jerusalem correspondent Scott Bobb in southern Israel said three units of the apartment block were destroyed. Residents in the area are staying indoors in anticipation of more attacks, said Bobb.

Sirens also went off late Thursday in Tel Aviv sparking a panic and nearly crippling mobile phone service after missiles fired from Gaza approached the city.
 
Israeli officials say the missiles fell into the sea.  Palestinian militants issued a statement claiming responsibility, saying they had fired Iranian-made rockets. It is the first time sirens have sounded in Tel Aviv since the Gulf War in 1991.

Israeli security officials are warning residents to seek protection in reinforced bomb shelters or in public institutions when they hear sirens.

Schools in southern Israel are closed and many businesses within 40 kilometers of the Gaza border are not opening Thursday for fear of shelling by Palestinian militants.

Watch related video:


Inside the Gaza Strip, Palestinians too were taking cover, going out only to get staples. Israel dropped leaflets warning Gazans to stay away from buildings and locations run by the military wing of Hamas.
 
Palestinian officials say the latest Israeli strikes killed two people Thursday, including a child, bringing the Palestinian death toll over the past two days to 12.  Hamas military commander Ahmed al-Jaabari was killed Wednesday in an Israeli airstrike.

Who is Ahmed al-Jaabari?

  • Headed Hamas' military wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades
  • Most senior Hamas official killed in Gaza since Israel's offensive four years ago
  • Was at the top of Israel's most-wanted list
  • Israel held him responsible for all attacks from Gaza in the last decade
  • Israel blamed him for kidnapping of soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006

Israel's Shin Bet intelligence service said Jaabari was killed because of his "decade-long terrorist activity," including the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006.  Jaabari was the most senior Hamas official to be killed since an Israeli invasion of Gaza four years ago.

Hamas warned Israel had opened up what it calls "the gates of hell" and vowed revenge.  

Situation 'grave'

Top Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said the situation was "very grave."

"We are doing, exacting, every possible effort in order to have the situation de-escalated, because I think it is in nobody's interest to see this assassination, attack against [Ahmed] al-Jaabari, and bombardment, which we condemn in the strongest possible terms," he said.

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would not allow Hamas to continue to terrorize its people.

“In the past 24 hours, Israel has made it clear that it will not tolerate rocket and missile attacks on its civilians. I hope that Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in Gaza got the message. If not, Israel is prepared to take whatever action is necessary to defend our people.”

World leaders are expressing concern over the escalation in violence, warning it could have dire consequences for the region.

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi said Israeli aggression against Gaza is "unacceptable."

But U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told VOA Thursday that he understands the reasons Israel is taking action. He said Israel has been hit by about 800 rockets or missiles this year, so he understands that Israel’s reasons for defending itself.

Panetta added that he hoped the Israelis work to minimize the civilian deaths that are likely to occur. And Panetta said he hoped that in the end that all sides will recognize the need to get back to try to negotiate a permanent peace agreement.


  • Smoke rises following an Israeli attack on Gaza City, Nov. 15, 2012.
  • Damage is shown to the top of a building in Kiriat Malakhi, November 15, 2012. (VOA - L. Fridmam)
  • A Zaka volunteer cleans blood stains from an apartment in a building that was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, where three people were killed in Kiryat Malachi, southern Israel, Kiryat Malachi, southern Israel, November 15, 2012.
  • Zaka volunteers clean blood stains from a pillow and a baby toy in a children's room in apartment building that was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, where three people were killed in Kiryat Malachi, southern Israel, Kiryat Malachi, southern Isra
  • Palestinian women react during the funeral of Hisham Al Galban, a Hamas militant killed in an Israeli attack, in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, November 15, 2012.
  • A Palestinian demonstrator runs through a cloud of tear gas during clashes against Israel's operations in Gaza Strip, outside Ofer, an Israeli military prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah, November 15, 2012.
  • A Palestinian boy holds a window pane taken from a damaged house hit in an Israeli strike, in Gaza City, November 15, 2012.s
  • Israelis take cover as a siren warning of an incoming rocket sounds in Kiryat Malachi, southern Israel, Thursday, November 15, 2012.


Israeli military gathers

Still, Israeli tanks and ground forces continue to gather along the border. Israeli army spokeswoman, Lieutenant Colonel Avital Leibovich, said Thursday they will be used if needed.

"All the options are on the table, including the possibility of a ground operation, we have alerted some of our reserve units and we are considering our next steps currently," she said. "We are striking various targets from the air, targets of either caches of rockets, storages of rockets, underground tunnels used to store rockets and other targets."

In Gaza, hospitals were busy treating the wounded even as thousands took to the streets for the funeral of the Hamas military commander killed Wednesday.

The head of the secret service in Gaza, Tawfeek Tirawi, accused Israel of war crimes.

"What is happening in Gaza is a crime against our Palestinian people, a continuous attack. This is part of the ongoing Israeli policies that it always attacks our Palestinian people," he said.

"Therefore, in Gaza it does not differentiate between civilians and factions," he said. "This is why we should all be one hand and end the Palestinian rift by going straight to reconciliation."

Israeli officials argue the airstrikes are a direct response to almost daily Palestinian rocket strikes on Israel and have warned Hamas members not to "show their faces above ground" in the next few days.

U.N. Security Council meets

The United Nations Security Council held a late-night emergency meeting that Egypt and council member Morocco requested on behalf of the Palestinians.

Indian Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, who heads the 15-nation council this month, said in his capacity as Indian ambassador that he hoped the meeting will lead to a de-escalation of violence in Gaza.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in an interview Thursday that Israel is entitled to defend itself but urged both sides to show restraint. He said an escalation would be a "catastrophe."

VOA's Scott Bobb and Robert Berger contributed from Israel, Luis Ramirez from Bangkok, Jeff Seldin from Washington.

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by: LeRoy Padmore from: Jersey City,NJ
November 16, 2012 12:30 AM
Israel is a sovereign nation and the Jews have an obligation and right to protect and defend it sovereignity.the IDF have to do all in it's supreme power to fight until the last soldier die.Israel have every right like any other country to repair and dismantle every terrorist stronghold.But what give the Arab people to killed the Jews and the Jews cannot do the same?if you fire rockets into Israel,Israel will do the same.is it ok to shed the Jewish people Blood,But not the Arab?nonsense.we support any action Israel will take to defend their home land.whatever it takes,we stand with Israel.God Bless Israel

by: Jen from: USA
November 15, 2012 6:53 PM
I don't understand why the Gazan's are firing missles into Israel. I understand that Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005. It doesn't look like they want go occupy it again so the claim that Israel wants to expand doesn't seem plausable.

by: Anonymous
November 15, 2012 5:51 PM
hey, Israel... how does "land for peace" working for you...???
yeah, you should consider surrendering Judea and Samaria too...

by: Augusto from: Portugal
November 15, 2012 4:34 PM
Love this comment. "Inside the Gaza Strip, Palestinians too were taking cover, going out only to get staples."

by: angelina from: las vegas
November 15, 2012 4:22 PM
What about the massacre done by israel in Gaza Palestine and Lebanon since many years if Palestine fire rocket and kill 3 in reward israel kill millions many through their air force which are not published with exact figures child of USA@Israel is always busy in massacre wars in Palestine Gaza Lebanon when they get free from them then they start finding more excuses to get indulge in wars with other countries peace and israel totally 2 separate words Finally, Israel refuse to stick to the actual laws regarding land, they constantly victimize Arabic nations, are paranoid as hell, will drag the USA and its allies into a dangerous conflict that could be sorted if Israel was not so paranoid and? actually stuck to the laws instead of thinking it is so superior to everything and everyone in the world. Also religion plays a massive part in these conflicts, when will humans learn, when?.
Starved of justice: Palestinians detained without trial by Israel," states that Israel must end its policy of detaining Palestinian prisoners without charge or trial.
The report said that the Israeli Prison Services punished Palestinian hunger strikers by placing them in solitary confinement, claiming that holding the action was against prison regulations immediate counselling is required for Israeli war monger prime minister netanyahu to settle down the long UN resolved issue which killed many innocent human beings.
In Response

by: Lynn from: Colorado
November 17, 2012 3:39 AM
You don't fool me or the rest of the world. There should only be very few "Palestinians left and all over 60 yrs. old that would have been granted full citizenship if they wanted to live in Israel or were supposed to be granted citizenship in neighboring Jordan. Israel just wants peace but it is the anti-Israelis who keep making all of the trouble. Muslim factions are always firing from behind civilians even when they fight each other so they think they can get sympathy from the rest of the world because the civilians end up being fired upon in pursuit of the cowards who use innocents as sheilds. This method has been used so many times that it is almost laughable that people like you are crying foul against Israel who is only trying to defend itself as they have every right to do so.
In Response

by: sarge 0311 from: US
November 15, 2012 6:29 PM
Israel kills millions? I don't know what kind of fantasyland you live in. Israel victimizes the Arab countries? Holy crap. Are you a nut job? MILLIONS of Arabs in their armies have attacked Israel in 4 full scale wars and fired 10's of thousands of rockets into Israel from Gaza & Lebanon. And Israel is victimizing the poor Arab countries? I think you need to seek professional help. You are delusional.

by: truth from: USA
November 15, 2012 4:01 PM
Is there no difference between strategic strikes and trageting civilians? For some reason there is not in the Arab world. Israel must protect there civilians, and if not for 247 rockets being fired at innocent people there would be no air stirkes in Gaza. Unless anyone out there can produce one example of an event that Israel took military action againt anyone that was not self defense.

by: denny from: melbourne
November 15, 2012 3:10 PM
Israel is strong. But it does not mean that they can use their superiority to expand their territory and build the settlements on Palestinian land. They will never achieve peace with their neighbors this way. But do they really want the peace? Seems to me that the tension allow them to use the force to achieve their goals. If all sides involved do not resolve the situation peacefully, the war will be only temporary solution - as always.
In Response

by: Lynn from: Colorado
November 17, 2012 3:49 AM
There is no Palestinian land that you speak of since the International Treaty was drawn up back in the early part of the last century. There were not that many Palestinians then, they were offered full citizenship if they wanted to become part of Israel. Some did and love their country and have prospered. Those who did not want to were supposed to be given citizenship in Jordan and other areas. Your problem should be with Jordan and the other surrounding countries who let down their bretheren. Any Palestinian expatriots left, would be over 60yrs old now. In all actuality, There is no Palestinian refugee crisis that they have not put upon themselves by not resettling elsewhere or taking Israel's generous offer. Israel is just defending themselves. May God Bless Israel forever more as He says so in all the Holy Books. We pray for the people who are actually left over Palestinians to follow through with the agreed-upon compromise or to come to their senses, speak up and help stop the bloodshed for the sake of everyone involved.
In Response

by: Kelly from: Aberta
November 15, 2012 4:50 PM
Who is their negotiating partner?
Certainly not Hamas, who wants all the Jews dead.
And not Abbas either, recall the building freeze, he only belatedly made an effort to sit down in the final week, and only because he was forced to do so by the Americans.

by: Vonnie from: Toledo, OH
November 15, 2012 1:42 PM
I read in another article that mourners at the funeral of the Hamas leader were saying they want to kill in the name of God and continue Jihad. At some point, someone has got to speak with a voice of reason and say "Enough!" I feel sorry for all the Palestinians and Israelis who have to sleep in shelters and are afraid to go outside. I don't blame Israel, though, for defending its citizens; if someone were attacking my "home", I would defend it too. And, as one who believes in the Bible, I know what the scriptures say about Israel-God will bless those who bless her and curse those who curse her. So, God bless Israel.
In Response

by: kayann ramos from: nj
November 15, 2012 11:19 PM
Amen! People listen to GOD;;;the bible is talking the entire world can see this!

by: Haron from: Afghanistan
November 15, 2012 12:32 PM
now it is a big prove that all the dissident groups should unite with each other in Syria and peace with government. around the world watching innocent and undefended people in Palestine. that no US, Turkey, French, Saudi Arabia and Qatar care for them. still it is Russia that call on Israel to eliminate the war. those who are fighting near the border of Turkey must afraid from god. what's the economic of Libya and Tunisia right now. people don't find bread in bakery in these two countries. one day you will drink filthy water. don't ingratitude on your president.
In Response

by: Anonymous
November 15, 2012 6:10 PM
Fact - Hamas was created by Israel. Learn your history.
In Response

by: sarge 0311 from: US
November 15, 2012 4:48 PM
"innocent people in Palestine"?
Fact: They elected Hamas
Fact: Hamas has fired thousands & thousands of rockets into Israel indiscriminately without regard for who they killed as long as they could kill some Jews.
Fact: The terrorists fire from civilian populated areas to ensure that when Israel takes out the rocket launchers there will be civilian casualties.
Fact: The minute the minute the rockets stop, so will Israel's defensive strikes to take out the launchers.
Are you too stupid or blind to not see the cause and effect?

by: vinnie gambini
November 15, 2012 10:50 AM
Fatima..... what is wrong with your question?
Your thinking is wrong.
Your focus is on death.
Jews focus on life.
Think about it.
You could've asked:
How can this end?
Who profits from this?
What started this?
Why does the UN/ICC/ et al have no power to resolve this?

The quantity of dead is the least important matter of focus.
Unless of course, that's your inherent interest.

I find it interesting the media headlines report:
Israel strikes, Israel ferociously attacks, Israel assasinates, Palestinian Children killed.........

The quantity of rockets deliberately fired into Israel at innocent Israelis is never mentioned.

That's attempted murder!
In Response

by: Madhi from: Nigeria
November 16, 2012 3:30 PM
EXIT PALESTINIAN LANDS OR NO PEACE!

Congratulations to Israel for another killing, this time the high-tech murder of Ahmed Aljaabari in full public glare with mocking and taunting slurs against Palestinians or Hamas or "Terrorists" as they like to say in social media and world headlines!

I think that is a war crime or crime against humanity!

You cannot practice apartheid, genocide, ethnic cleansing, racism, land grabs, evictions, land thefts, economic strangulation and blockade, regimentation of peoples' lives by another race, denial of statehood, freedom and development and expect peace.

Its obvious that Israel's mad, racist, fanatic, sadistic, unintelligent, arrogant and killer leadership do not learn from history, including recent ones in which Jews were victims.

Gaza is Warsaw Ghetto all over again!

You cannot defeat the Palestinians even with all the armaments, propaganda, technical wizardry, diplomacy, lies, discriminations, economic strangulations and assassinations in the world!

The only solution to the rocket fires by "the men of Palestine" is to allow the Palestinians have peace in their own land and state, if Israel is smart, or they should remove themselves and the state of Israel from the entire Arab and Palestinian lands occupied or annexed since 1948!

The choice is theirs to make if their is still time or history will repeat itself again, this time akin to AD 70!




You cannot kill men, women and children at will by calling them “terrorists" and expect to sleep in peace!
You cannot destroy the spirit, livelihood and manhood of the Palestinians and expect to go scot free!
You cannot fire missiles, tank shells, “high precision" bombs, land and sea batteries and expect their applause!

So the only men in Palestine, the Hamas, has lobbed what they have - missiles and rockets- and those who expect them to use stones, slings or eggs or raise their hands in surrender will continue to be disappointed!

Thank you



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