soldiers ride on top of an armored personnel carrier close to
the Israel-Gaza border,in
southern Israel. …The White
House on Thursday threw its full support behind
Israel's military response to a barrage of rockets fired by the
movement Hamas that rules the Gaza Strip. Deputy National
Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes said it
would be "up to the Israeli government" whether to follow up
airstrikes with a ground assault.
"Our view is that the Israelis have the right of
self-defense when their citizens are faced with the threat ofindiscriminate
rocket fire from within
Gaza," Rhodes told reporters on a conference call.
Asked whether the Obama administration
would have any issues with an Israeli ground assault, Rhodes
replied that "ultimately, it's up to the Israeli government to
about how they're going
to carry out their military objectives."
The Associated Press has reportedthat Hamas fired more
than 200 rockets on Thursday, killing
three people, and that Israel seemed to be gearing
up for a groundinvasion
of Gaza. The escalating
conflict amounted to President Barack Obama's first major
foreign policy test since
re-election Nov. 6.Rhodes
said American officials werein
close consultation with their Israeli counterparts "to
have an understanding
of their plans going
forward." The Obama administration
discussions with Turkey, Egypt and "some of our European
partners," he said, thought to have sway over Hamasin
order to get them to urge the militant organization to
halt its rocket attacks.
"At the United Nations, where this is being
discussed, we've sought to keep the focus where it should
be—which is on Hamas's rocket fire as the precipitating
cause here," Rhodes explained.
"What we've also said is that the best course of action
would be for there to be a general de-escalation of the
violence, but that the onus is on Hamas—and those withinfluence
over Hamas—to help bring
about that de-escalation, so that we don't see a widening
conflict," he told reporters. "So we certainly
want to see a de-escalation, we certainly
want to see a broader conflict avoided."
The official noted that
the White House has urged Israelto take "all steps ...
to avoid civilian casualties." He added, "And we deeply regret
the loss of life on the Israeli and Palestinian
Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren briefed
key senators on the operation. The lawmakers—Democrats and
"solidarity" with Israel while warning
that "escalation will only lead to further suffering
on both sides."
Rockets, airstrikes reignite Mideast conflict
updated 10:42 AM EST, Thu November 15, 2012
PALESTINIAN FIREFIGHTERS IN GAZA AFTER ISRAEL ATTACKS BACK
GAZA BOY FIGHTING BACK TEARS
ISREAL SOLDER FIRES TEAR GAS AT PALESTINIAN STONE THROWERS
PALESTINIAN YOUTH INSPECTS DESTROYED MOSQUE IN
MISSLE BOMBING IN GAZA 11-15-12
Israelis take cover in a pipe used as a bomb shelter, after a
rocket was launched from the Gaza Strip on Thursday, November 15
in Kiryat Malachi, Israel. Rockets and shells crisscrossed
between Israel and Gaza on Thursday as Palestinian militants
continued rocket attacks on Israeli civilians and Israel pounded
what it called terror sites.
CNN) -- Israel launched a series of
blistering airstrikes Wednesday on what it says are terrorist
targets in Gaza, killing the chief of Hamas' military wing and
at least eight others, Israeli and Palestinian officials said.
As the tensions
ratcheted up, the U.N. Security Council held an emergency
meeting Wednesday evening.
leaders immediately condemned the attacks as an escalation, with
President Mahmoud Abbas calling for an emergency session of the
Council of the League of Arab States to discuss what he called
Israeli "aggression," the Egyptian state news agency MENA
wing warned that Israelis had opened "the gates of hell on
themselves" with the move.
A report on the Israel Defense Forces website said Brig. Gen.
Yoav Moredechai would not rule out a ground attack.
brigades have been shifted in preparation for the operation," he
said, according to the website.
spokeswoman Lt. Colonel Avital Leibovich said: "There are some
reserve units that are preparing but nothing more than that at
There were at
least 70 strikes by warplanes and ships Wednesday, officials
from Palestinian militant groups said. As night fell, more
airstrikes could be heard, and Hamas security officials said
four more attacks hit empty swaths of farmland in Gaza late
Wednesday. The IDF said at least 128 rockets had been fired from
Gaza since Saturday.
Q&A on Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Dome air defense system intercepted 28 rockets launched at
Israel on Wednesday, the IDF said on its
Twitter feed, which it was updating almost hourly with new
details as well as links to photos.
One of the
posters on the IDF's feed was Al-Qassam, the military wing of
Hamas, which has the Twitter ID of
"@idfspokesperson Our blessed hands will reach your leaders and
soldiers wherever they are (You Opened Hell Gates on
medical sources said at least eight people died in the Israeli
airstrikes, including two young girls, and 84 others were
wounded, 10 in serious condition. However, the health minister
in Gaza, Mufid al-Mukhalalati, put the death toll at seven.
included Ahmed al-Ja'abari, the popular and influential head of
the Hamas military wing, and his son, the group said on its
operation -- which the military calls "Operation Pillar of
Defense" -- came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned
this week of pending retaliation by Israel for increased rocket
attacks from Gaza.
"I would ask
you, I'd ask any person around the planet: What would you do if
your population was targeted day after day?" Israeli government
spokesman Mark Regev said, later adding that "you have to see
our operation as fundamentally defensive."
its ambassador to Israel on Wednesday, the Israeli Foreign
Ministry said. A senior Israeli official said its ambassador to
Egypt returned home, but that move wasn't related to the ongoing
violence. The official wouldn't comment on whether Israel had
pulled its entire diplomatic staff from Egypt.
States said Israel has the right to defend itself, according to
a statement from the State Department.
condemn the barrage of rocket fire from Gaza into southern
Israel, and we regret the death and injury of innocent Israeli
and Palestinian civilians caused by the ensuing violence," the
statement said. "There is no justification for the violence that
Hamas and other terrorist organizations are employing against
the people of Israel. We call on those responsible to stop these
cowardly acts immediately."
The White House
said in a news release that President Obama spoke with Netanyahu
by phone, reiterating the United States support for Israel.
Obama also spoke with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy and the
two agreed it was important to help de-escalate the situation
quickly, the White House statement said.
Read more: Hamas justice system 'reeks of injustice,' rights
A spokesman for
Hamas, Osama Hamdan, claimed that Hamas has been defending
itself from Israeli attacks.
"I think the
ones who declared war was Israel, and I think the Palestinians
are in the position of defending themselves and nothing more
than this," he said. Hamas will resist as long as the Israeli
offensive lasts, Hamdan said.
ships could be seen firing into Gaza from the Mediterranean. The
navy struck "terror sites" there, the IDF said via Twitter.
military said in a statement Wednesday it targeted "a
significant number of long-range rockets sites" to deliver "a
significant blow" to Hamas' underground rocket-launching
capabilities and munitions warehouses.
Some of the
munitions warehouses were in civilian residential buildings,
which showed that Hamas uses a strategy of human shields,
Israeli military sources said.
"The aim of
targeting these sites is to hamper their rocket-launching
weapons build up capabilities," the IDF statement said, adding
that the Gaza strip had become "a frontal base for Iran firing
rockets and carrying out terrorist attacks against Israeli
Read more: Can rival Palestinian factions reach unity deal?
gathered at the heavily damaged vehicle that contained the
bodies of al-Ja'abari and his bodyguard.
Saeb Erakat, the
chief Palestinian negotiator, condemned "in the strongest
possible terms" what he called the Israeli assassination of
In an interview
with CNN, Erakat labeled the attack the beginning of a "major,
major Israeli escalation," and he called on the international
community to pressure Israel to halt its operation.
the Gaza health minister, also called on "the free world to stop
this massacre committed by Israel."
assassinating al-Ja'abari, Regev said the Hamas military leader
headed a "terror military machine."
"This is the man
with blood on his hands. This man is a known and wanted
terrorist," he said. "In taking him out, Israel was acting
escalation in violence is part of a cycle of attacks between
periods of relative stability between Israel and the
"This was both
inevitable and predictable," said Aaron David Miller, a Middle
East expert and vice president at the Woodrow Wilson Center.
There is no
long-term basis for both sides to find a lasting peace, he said.
Israel and the
Palestinians have "completely different political and strategic
goals," Miller explained. The focus should be on how to bring
security until a basis for long-term stability arises, he added.
CNN's Ashley Fantz, Elise Labott and
Tom Cohen contributed to this report.
The BBC's James
no sign of
any let-up in
a possible ground offensive.
at more than
fired 11 rockets from Gaza.
rockets were fired 70km (45 miles) north of Gaza
intensified since Israel
been killed in Israeli
airstrikes, including children,
and three Israelis
been killed by Palestinian
rocket fire into southern
is to travel
a show of support. Israeli
Prime Minister Benjamin
his country's offensive
would be suspended during
the three-hour visit,
as no rockets were fired from Gaza.
stepped up its
with huge blasts
to fire rockets
cities: by Thursday
fired more than
350 rockets from Gaza,
of which Israel
been intercepted by its Iron
Dome missile defence system.
residents took cover
a missile threat
the first time since Iraq
the city with Scud missiles during
the Gulf War
One missile landed
is thought to have
armed wing of Islamic
rocket - which has
The focus of
the possible widening of this conflict
the country's biggest city
There were no
reported injuries but two rockets,
the movement of Israeli
are growing signs of
Defence Minister Ehud Barak
Aviv would "exact
a price that
side will have
been dropped over several
residents "to stay
the IDF disperses warning
reports of buses of Israeli
and trucks loaded
the build-up suggested
Prime Minister in Gaza,