Israel says 79 rockets fired at it from Gaza

JERUSALEM Wed Oct 24, 2012 5:23pm EDT

1 of 5. Palestinian relatives of Hamas gunman Ismail al-Tille mourn during his funeral in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip October 24, 2012. Israel killed a Hamas gunman in its second round of air strikes in as many days on the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, responding to rocket fire at its southern towns that wounded three people. Separate raids by Israel on Tuesday killed three members of the Islamist group, one of them al-Tille, in control of the coastal territory.

Credit: Reuters/Suhaib Salem

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Palestinians fired dozens of rockets into Israel from Gaza on Wednesday and an Israeli air strike killed a militant, a day after the Emir of Qatar made a rare visit to the enclave's Hamas leadership.

Hamas claimed responsibility for some of the rocket and mortar bomb attacks, prompting some Israelis to wonder whether it had been emboldened by the Qatari visit on Tuesday that broke the Islamist group's diplomatic isolation.

In recent months, Hamas has largely held its fire when other militant factions have launched cross-border rocket attacks, but the sudden upsurge in violence stoked fears that the hostilities could escalate further.

Hamas accused Israel of stepping up air strikes in the Gaza Strip, a move it said was meant to convey Israeli anger over Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani's visit, and pledged to "continue to hold a gun ... until Palestine is liberated".

Israel said it was "astounding" that Qatar, a U.S.-allied Gulf state, would take sides in the Palestinian dispute and endorse Hamas, branded by the West as a terrorist group. Hamas seized the Gaza Strip in 2007 from fighters loyal to the Fatah faction of Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Some analysts saw the Qatari ruler's trip, the first by any national leader to Gaza since Hamas took over, as an attempt to build bridges between the group and the West and coax it into the peace camp amid Arab turmoil across the Middle East.

A Palestinian official said Egypt was trying to mediate a truce.

"The contacts Cairo made resulted in a verbal promise by Hamas to calm the situation down and Israel said it was monitoring calm on the ground and would refrain from attacks unless it was subject to rocket fire from Gaza," said the official, who is close to the talks.

Israeli officials had no immediate comment. Previous rounds of cross-border attacks have usually fizzled out in days, with both Israel and Hamas seemingly aware of the risks of ramping up the low-intensity conflict.

Israel's three-week-long invasion of the Gaza Strip, launched in 2008 with the declared aim of curbing rocket launches, drew international criticism over a heavy Palestinian casualty toll.

Though hostile to Israel, Hamas has mostly sought to avoid direct clashes as it shores up its rule in the face of more radical challengers and seeks potential allies abroad.

NETANYAHU VISITS ANTI-MISSILE SITE

In a second day of violence, a Hamas militant was killed on Wednesday in an air strike, which Israel said was intended to stop rocket launches. On Tuesday, Israel killed three Hamas men, saying they had either launched attacks or were about to do so.

In southern Israel, three agricultural workers were wounded when a Palestinian rocket exploded near them.

An Israeli military spokeswoman, said 79 projectiles had been fired at Israel and that the Iron Dome system had intercepted eight of them. She said several homes had been damaged by Palestinian rockets.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is seeking a renewed mandate in Israel's January 22 election, visited an Iron Dome anti-missile battery near the southern city of Ashkelon on Wednesday and threatened stronger Israeli military action in Gaza.

"We did not choose this escalation, nor did we initiate it, but if it continues, we are prepared for a much wider and deeper operation," he said, pledging to press on with "targeted attacks" against militants preparing to fire rockets.

Israel kept schools shut in communities near the fenced Gaza boundary and residents were urged to remain indoors.

Hamas has refused to renounce violence or recognize Israel's right to exist, and is ostracized by the Quartet of Middle East mediators comprising the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia.

However, Hamas has said it would accept a truce with Israel in return for a state in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

(Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi and Douglas Hamilton; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Andrew Osborn)

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Comments (17)
Harry079 wrote:
Send in the tanks.

Oct 24, 2012 10:55am EDT  --  Report as abuse
mils54 wrote:
IMHO Israel needs bigger more destructive munitions!, The bombs they drop on these launch sites are too small to make a real impact, A Daisy cutter would send a substantially stronger message than sending Tanks and Troops, Every time these missiles are sent over the border, BOOM!!! several blocks are vaporized, I bet the Palistinian people would not allow the Rats to fire missiles much longer from their yards and alley ways!.

Oct 24, 2012 12:38pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
paintcan wrote:
Everything seems to jeopardize the Israeli idea of the peace process because they invariably want the upper hand. Territorial aggrandizement requires some kinf of perpetual state of war and peace and recognition of a second state will end that.

The only peace terms will be those they want, when they want them, and where they want them. And it can’t cost them much. If the Palestinians are militant and armed it is because the situation makes them the weaker side and that’s the stand of the frustrated. The Palestinians occupy less land now than they did when the partition of Palestine was first planned. And the UN record shows that the first wars over the state of Israel started because Israel changed the borders unilaterally.

The Israeli argument is always that they are the minority in the region and force of arms is justified against a superior foe. The Palestinians were using the same argument against the Israelis. Remember the death toll exacted by the Israeli’s in the Gaza conflict was at a factor of 100 Palestinian deaths to one Israeli and the Israeli government could have easily avoided civilian casualties by advising those people to move away temporarily. Why didn’t they? Did the occupants want to avoid a hotel bill or did the government not want to provide them with temporary accommodation? The Palestinian civilians were trapped within that compound and could not escape. That was one of the more obscene crimes against humanity I’ve heard about from a supposedly civilized and western country. It was worse than Bosnia because the Bosnians could flee.

The Israeli’s are claiming a right to occupy the West Bank as the spoils of war. That is illegal under laws governing the UN that Israel agreed to when it became a member state. The settlements were built on land under their own land use control without any other input from the Palestinians expect the sale of some of the land. It is easy to suggest that some of those sales were coerced by the prevailing conditions of life in the West Bank. The new wall was not built on land sold to them by the owners and any destruction of property the Israelis undertake in Gaza or the West Bank, in the interests of its own security, is also not compensated. The Israeli’s seldom move their people. It’s usually the Palestinians that have been displaced and many have moved from the West bank and Gaza to neighboring countries, and for some it was decades ago. The Israelis are still encouraging their own people to occupy former Palestinian territory to create “facts on the ground”. The Palestinians have repeatedly complained that settlements have not ceased.

Israel created itself through force of arms and is a very militant state with compulsory conscription. The Palestinians can only use volunteers and very under-funded military forces to defend the interest of it’s own people who have very tenuous legal rights under Israeli occupation. The Israeli’s seem to fear a better-managed Palestinian state because they will not be able to carry on with extra territorial expansion in the only area they can expand. Can anyone reasonably suggest any other motive? No other country in Europe and certainly not the US or Canada, is successfully able to defend itself in the name of preserving itself as an ethnic or religious enclave. They can’t do that as members of the UN.

There is no reason at all to accept true faith on the part of Israeli negotiators and the Palestinians know it. The Palestinians are the people most tangibly pressed by the situation and the Israelis have to show willingness to withdraw and to accept the Palestinians existence as a self governing entity or else redefine itself and allow all the inhabitants to become a single state.

The western powers show no true faith either in that they seem to recognize the right to self-defense of their own interests but not those regimes they label their enemies. That’s all I’ve heard for 50 years from the bigger powers. That’s what tended to make them the big powers.

The world does seem to reduce, in essence, to the wolves and the sheep. But one never expects true faith or honesty in negotiations with a wolf. But the wolves do try hard to advertise themselves as sheep.

If anyone thinks that the UN is the problem think what will happen if it ceases to exist? The State of Israel was largely a UN invention.

Oct 24, 2012 2:22pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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