Gaza conflict: Israel vows to intensify offensive




Gaza conflict: Israel vows to intensify offensive

16 November 2012

Israel has ordered up to 75,000 reservists on stand-by and vowed to intensify its raids on the Gaza Strip after militants targeted Jerusalem with a rocket for the first time in decades.

"Tonight won't be calm in Gaza," army spokesman Yoav Mordechai said.

The violence escalated with a rocket earlier hitting Jerusalem's outskirts - as well as another targeting Tel Aviv.

Twenty-eight Palestinians and three Israelis have died since Wednesday when Israel killed Hamas's military chief.

Two Israeli women and a man died when a rocket fired from Gaza hit a building in the southern town of Kiryat Malachi on Thursday, Israeli officials said.

Before the recent offensive, Israel had repeatedly carried out air strikes on Gaza, as Palestinian militants fired rockets across the border.

It is not clear if the rocket targeting Jerusalem was the same Iranian-built Fajr-5 launched towards Tel Aviv for the second day on Friday.

The rockets have an estimated range of 75km (45 miles).

A rocket landed in Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem. Haaretz newspaper said it was the first time since 1970 that a rocket had been fired into Jerusalem.

Police have been checking to see if a second rocket fell in the Jerusalem area.

A missile targeting Tel Aviv appears to have done no harm, with police officials quoted variously as saying it had landed in the sea or in an unpopulated area.

It is the first time Tel Aviv has come under attack since the 1991 Gulf War.

Analysts say it is the first time Gaza militants have deployed such powerful missiles.

Israel says the assault is aimed at knocking out rocket-firing facilities. A spokesman said on Friday it had destroyed Hamas's "nascent" unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) programme.

Call-up papers have already been sent to 16,000 Israeli reservists.

On Friday evening Israel blocked access to three major routes leading into Gaza.

Rumours have been swirling that a ground attack is imminent, but Israeli officials have said no decision has yet been made.

The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said that during the operation - codenamed Pillar of Defense - it had targeted "600 terror sites in Gaza, including underground rocket launchers & infrastructure".

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has accused Israel of carrying out "massacres".

Western leaders have appealed for both sides to stop the escalation in violence.

Britain and Germany both said Hamas bears the brunt of the blame and should stop firing rockets immediately.

But Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi has called the Israeli raids "a blatant aggression against humanity" and promised that Egypt "will not leave Gaza on its own".

Ties between Hamas and Egypt have strengthened since Mr Mursi's election earlier this year.

Hamas was formed as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, to which Mr Mursi belongs.




 














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