Israeli Strikes Kill 12 Civilians, Including 5 Children, In Gaza
At least 20 Palestinians, including 12 civilians, were killed across Gaza on Tuesday as Israeli military forces expanded a major bombing offensive targeting Islamic militants who have fired dozens of rockets at Israel.
Reuters reports five children were among the dozen innocent Palestinian civilians killed by Israeli bombardment.
Israeli civilians ran for cover in cities and towns throughout the nation as air raid sirens sounded warning of imminent rocket attacks. Hamas rockets targeted, among other places, Tel Aviv, Israel’s largest city, and the holy city of Jerusalem, both of which suffered hits during the last Gaza war in 2012.
Repeating the historical pattern of Israeli-Palestinian violence, far more Palestinians than Israelis have been killed during Operation Protective Edge. There were no reports of any Israeli deaths as of Tuesday evening. Two Israelis were reportedly wounded.
Israel has called up some 40,000 military reservists and is considering mobilizing even more.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that the time has come to “take off the gloves” against Hamas, the democratically-elected rulers of Gaza who are considered a terrorist organization by Israel and the United States.
“Hamas chose to escalate the situation and it will pay a heavy price for doing so,” vowed Netanyahu.
“We will not tolerate rocket fire against our cities and townships, and therefore I ordered a significant broadening of IDF (Israel Defense Forces) operations against the terrorists of Hamas and other terror groups in the Gaza Strip,” said Netanyahu.
Senior Israeli officials said Operation Protective Edge could last for “a long time” and that a ground invasion of Gaza was a possibility.
“We are prepared for a campaign against Hamas, which will not end within days,” said Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. “Hamas is leading the current confrontation to a place in which it seeks to exact a heavy price from our home front. There is a need for patience.”
The current escalation of hostilities is largely the result of a chain of events that began with the recent kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers by suspected Hamas militants. Israeli extremists then abducted and burned to death a Palestinian teenager in an apparent revenge attack.
More than 200 rockets have since been fired from Gaza into Israel.
The previous ground invasion of Gaza, Operation Cast Lead, left more than 1,400 Palestinians dead. Of those, 926 were innocent civilians, including 429 women and children. Thirteen Israeli troops and three civilians died during the 2008-2009 war, which lasted 22 days.
Hamas said on Tuesday that it had launched rockets as far north into Israel as Haifa, 140 km (88 miles) away, and Israel confirmed that a rocket had struck Hadera, 100 km (62 miles) from Gaza. Hamas militants celebrated the strike; it represented the furthest any of its rockets, some of which come from Iran, have reached.
Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted at least one missile fired at Tel Aviv by the resistance group Islamic Jihad, the Jerusalem Post reports. Tel Aviv police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said no rockets fired from Gaza have landed in the capital, although one landed near a home in nearby Mateh Yehuda without causing injury or damage.
Military officials said Iron Dome also intercepted at least 21 other rockets fired at cities and towns including Ashdod, Ashkelon and Gaza border communities.
The United States has condemned the rocket attacks against Israel.
“We strongly condemn the continuing rocket fire inside of Israel and the deliberate targeting of civilians by terrorist organizations in Gaza,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said at a Tuesday press briefing. “No country can accept rocket fire aimed at civilians and we support Israel’s right to defend itself against these vicious attacks.”
But as night fell on Tuesday, the only civilians paying with their lives in the continued struggle between Israel and Palestine were the ones living in Gaza.