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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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
x
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:

Related video of Netanyahu, Israeli warplanes in Gaza Stripi
|| 0:00:00
X
November 15, 2012 4:10 PM
Related video of Netanyahu, Israeli warplanes in Gaza Strip

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.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
 Previous    
by: Fatima from: New York
November 15, 2012 7:24 AM
Where is your report on how many Palestinian civilians have been killed in Gaza in recent days?

In Response

by: Haggar from: California
November 15, 2012 10:57 AM
Please read the article again. More carefully in Cyclical retaliation section. Read another article from voanews.com and you'll find it. But you need to keep an open and unemotional mind.

     

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid