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Entries in Gaza Strip (9)

Wednesday
Nov212012

Israeli Bus Explodes in Tel Aviv as Diplomats Work Toward Truce

MAJDI FATHI/AFP/Getty ImagesUPDATE: Israel and Hamas have agreed to a ceasefire, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Wednesday.

(TEL AVIV, Israel) -- A bomb ripped through an Israeli bus near the nation's military headquarters in Tel Aviv Wednesday, wounding more than a dozen people, Israeli officials said.

The bus exploded around noon local time in one of the city's busiest areas, near the Tel Aviv museum.  Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said authorities were investigating whether the bomb had been planted and left on the bus or whether it was the work of a suicide bomber.

Overnight, the violence between Israel and the neighboring Gaza Strip continued as Israeli aircraft pounded Gaza with dozens of strikes, hitting government ministries, underground tunnels, a banker's empty villa and a Hamas-linked media office.  Gaza health officials said there were no deaths or injuries.

The Israeli Defense Force said they've now destroyed 50 underground rocket launching sites in Gaza.  The IDF also said that two rockets were fired from Gaza toward densely populated areas in Israel, but were intercepted by the "Iron Dome" missile shield.

In Gaza, at least four strikes within seconds of each other pulverized a complex of government ministries the size of a city block, rattling nearby buildings and shattering windows.  Hours later, clouds of acrid dust still hung over the area and smoke still rose from the rubble.

In downtown Gaza City, another strike leveled the empty, two-story home of a well-known banker and buried a police car parked nearby in rubble.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah early Wednesday to try to help broker a truce between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip to end a week of tit-for-tat missile and rocket fire.

Israel and the Hamas militant group seemed to edge closer to a ceasefire on Tuesday but after a day of furious diplomatic efforts, a deal remained elusive and fighting raged on both sides of the border.

Israeli officials told ABC News that a window of opportunity for a deal could close if Hamas refuses to agree to a long-term ceasefire.  That ceasefire would be measured in years, not months.  Hamas is demanding that Israel loosen its iron grip on Gaza's borders and ease its maritime blockade.

Clinton will also meet with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo later on Wednesday.  The U.S. will not meet with Hamas because it considers it a terrorist group.

On Tuesday, Clinton met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for more than two hours behind closed doors, saying she sought to "de-escalate the situation in Gaza."  Clinton hinted it would take some time to finally reach an agreement.

The meeting came amid statements from Hamas earlier in the day that a ceasefire would soon be announced.  Netanyahu said he would prefer to use "diplomatic means" to find a solution to the fighting, but that Israel would take "whatever actions necessary" to defend its people.

Clinton relayed a message from President Obama, reinforcing America's commitment to Israel's security and calling for an end to the rockets coming from "terrorist organizations in Gaza."

She added that she would reiterate her message to Morsi when they meet later on Wednesday.

The rocket fire between Israel and Hamas, which began seven days ago, has claimed more than 138 Palestinian lives and five Israeli lives.  Half the Palestinian deaths were civilians; four of the five Israelis were civilians.  A ceasefire, if reached, would bring a halt to the worst violence between Gaza and Israel in four years.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov202012

Hamas Leader Dares Israel to Deploy Ground Troops

GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images(GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip) -- Hamas leader Khaled Meshal is calling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's bluff, a move that could backfire on the Palestinian enclave of Gaza straining to survive an onslaught of Israeli rockets.

As the death toll mounted on the Palestinian side Monday and with no signs of a ceasefire, Meshal dared Netanyahu to follow through on a threat to launch a ground invasion in an effort to end Hamas' own missile attacks on Israel.

Israel has at least 75,000 thousand reservists ready if the Israeli prime minister gives the word.   But Meshal boasted to reporters in Gaza City that Netanyahu would have sent troops in by now if he was serious about an invasion that the Hamas head said was Israel's way to "dictate its own terms and force us into silence."

Meshal also dismissed attempts to reach a truce with Israel, suggesting that the onus was on his group's bitter foe to stop "its aggression, assassinations and invasions" so that Palestinians in the Gaza Strip no longer have to live in fear.

Israel began "Operation Pillar of Defense" last Wednesday following non-stop rocket attacks by Hamas that have gone on for months.  The latest death toll figures put the number of Palestinian fatalities over 100, many of them civilians.  Israel suffered three deaths during the past week and as many as 80 people wounded.

Netanyahu reportedly met with his Cabinet and military leaders Monday night about what Israel's next move will be.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov202012

Hillary Clinton to Travel to Middle East Amid Gaza Crisis

Alex Wong/Getty ImagesUPDATE: A ceasefire in the Middle East is expected to be announced later Tuesday at a press conference in Cairo, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum tells ABC News.

(PHNOM PENH, Cambodia) -- President Obama dispatched Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the Middle East on Tuesday with the hope that she can bring an end to the escalating violence that has gripped the region for the last week.

Clinton is scheduled to arrive in Jerusalem later Tuesday night to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes.  She will also meet with Palestinian officials in Ramallah before heading to Cairo to meet with leaders in Egypt.

A senior Israeli government official told ABC News that Netanyahu has decided to hold off on a ground invasion for a "limited time" in favor of a diplomatic solution.

Overnight, Israeli jets hit more than 100 targets, killing five people.  Gaza militants blasted more than 60 rockets in retaliation, with one of them hitting a bus in southern Israel.

Meanwhile, an Israeli man armed with an axe and knife stabbed a guard at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv Tuesday.  The guard was wounded in the attack, but is expected to live.  Police said they apprehended the man at the scene and have named no motive for the attack.

"It's in nobody's interest to see this escalate," Rhodes said at a press conference Tuesday in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where President Obama was attending the East Asia Summit.

Clinton departed from Cambodia following the announcement.  She was with Obama on his trip to Southeast Asia.

A State Department official told ABC News that Clinton's visit "will build on American engagement with regional leaders over the past days."

A White House official said they felt face-to-face diplomacy could help but no concrete details were offered.

Obama was on the phone until 2:30 a.m. local time with leaders in the region trying to de-escalate the violence, Rhodes told reporters.  The president spoke with Netanyahu and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi on Monday as well.

"To date, we're encouraged by the cooperation and the consultation we've had with the Egyptian leadership.  We want to see that, again, support a process that can de-escalate the situation," Rhodes said.  "But again, the bottom line still remains that Hamas has to stop this rocket fire."

Rhodes insisted that Palestinian officials need to be a part of the discussions to end the violence and rocket fire coming out of the Hamas-ruled territory.

"The Palestinian Authority, as the elected leaders of the Palestinian people, need to be a part of this discussion," he said.  "And they're clearly going to play a role in the future of the Palestinian people -- a leading role."

With the death toll rising, Egypt accelerated efforts to broker a ceasefire on Monday.  Anger boiled over in Gaza as the death toll passed 100 and the civilian casualties mounted.  Volleys of Palestinian militant rockets flew into Israel as Israeli drones buzzed endlessly overhead and warplanes streaked through the air to unleash missile strikes.

An Israeli strike on a Gaza City high-rise Monday killed Ramez Harb, one of the top militant leaders of Islamic Jihad, the Palestinian militant group said.

It is also the second high profile commander taken out in the Israeli offensive, which began seven days ago with a missile strike that killed Ahmed Jibari, Hamas' top military commander.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov192012

Israeli Air Strike Kills Top Islamic Jihad Commander

MAJDI FATHI/AFP/Getty Images(GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip) -- An Israeli strike on a Gaza City high-rise Monday has killed one of the top militant leaders of Islamic Jihad, the Palestinian militant group said.

The second strike in two days on the downtown Gaza City building that houses the Hamas TV station, Al Aqsa, has killed Ramez Harb, who is a leading figure in the Al Quds Brigades militant wing, according to a text message Islamic Jihad sent to reporters.

It is also the second high profile commander taken out in the Israeli offensive, which began six days ago with a missile strike that killed Ahmed Jibari, Hamas' top military commander.

On Monday, mourners buried the 11 victims of an Israeli air strike on Sunday, the single deadliest incident since the escalation between Hamas and Israel began last Wednesday.  Among the dead were nine members of the Daloo family, killed when an Israeli warplane targeted their home in Gaza City while trying to kill a Hamas rocket maker, whose fate is unknown.

Palestinian deaths climbed to more than 90 on Monday when four more, including two children, were killed in a strike on a sports stadium the Israel Defense Forces said was being used to launch rockets.  Gaza health officials said half of those killed were children, women or elderly men.

With the death toll rising, Egypt accelerated efforts to broker a ceasefire, but so far the two sides are far apart.  Egypt is being supported by Qatar and Turkey in its peacemaking mission and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is scheduled to arrive at the talks later Monday.

Israel carried out 80 air strikes Monday morning, down from previous morning totals.  There were 75 militant rocket launches, the Israeli military said, also a relatively low tally.

The Israel Defense Forces said that since Wednesday, around 1,100 strikes had been carried out in Gaza while militants have launched about 1,000 rockets towards Israel.

Three Israeli civilians died from militant rocket fire in one attack Thursday and dozens have been wounded.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov192012

Rising Palestinian Death Toll Spurs Calls for Ceasefire in Gaza

Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images(GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip) -- Mourners on Monday buried the 11 victims of an Israeli air strike Sunday, the single deadliest incident since the escalation between Hamas and Israel began last Wednesday.

Among the dead were nine members of the Daloo family, killed when an Israeli warplane targeted their home in Gaza City while trying to kill a Hamas rocket maker, whose fate is unknown.

Palestinian deaths climbed to more than 90 on Monday when four more, including two children, were killed in a strike on a sports stadium the Israel Defense Forces said was being used to launch rockets.  Gaza health officials said half of those killed were children, women or elderly men.

Israel carried out 80 air strikes Monday morning, down from previous morning totals.  There were just 16 militant rocket launches, the Israeli military said, also a relatively low tally.  

The Israel Defense Forces said that since Wednesday, when Hamas' top military commander was assassinated by Israel, around 1,100 strikes had been carried out in Gaza, while militants have launched about 1,000 rockets.

Sunday proved to be one the deadliest days of what Israel has called "Operation Pillar of Defense," with at least 23 people reported killed.  Of those, at least 14 were women and children, according to a Gaza health official.  

The Israel Defense Forces told ABC News it was targeting Hamas rocket maker Yehiya Bia, who lives near the Daloo family in a densely populated Gaza neighborhood and has not been accounted for.

Rescue workers worked frantically Monday morning looking for any survivors in the rubble of the attack.

Israel shifted its tactics this weekend from striking rocket arsenals and firing positions to targeting the homes of senior Hamas commanders and the offices of Hamas politicians in Gaza.  Doing so brought the violence into Gaza's most densely populated areas.

Israel also hit two high-rise buildings on Sunday that house the offices of Hamas and international media outlets, injuring at least six journalists.

Meanwhile, militant rockets continued to rain down on Israel Sunday.  More than 100 rockets were fired Sunday, with 76 landing in Israel, according to the Israel Defense Forces.  

The military said that more than 500 rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel.  More than 300 have been intercepted by Israel's "Iron Dome" defense system.

Three Israeli civilians died from militant rocket fire in one attack Thursday and dozens have been wounded.

The pace of diplomacy has stepped up as civilian casualties in Gaza continue to rise.  An Israeli envoy is in Cairo to talk with Egyptian officials but Hamas sources say no progress has been made.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is scheduled to arrive later Monday, and has called for an immediate ceasefire.  Leaders of Qatar, Turkey and Hamas, as well as an Israeli envoy, are working toward a ceasefire proposal.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov042011

Israel Blocks Activist Ships from Entering Gaza

A Palestinian protester holds a replica of a boat during a weekly demonstration against Israeli settlement expansion, in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh on November 4, 2011, the Israeli occupied Palestinian West Bank. ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images(TEL AVIV) -- Two boats carrying pro-Palestinian activists were stopped by the Israeli Navy on Friday as they tried to sail to the Gaza Strip and break Israel’s naval blockade. The white motoryachts were boarded after a radio exchange, and were led to a port in Israel’s southern city of Ashdod. There were no reports of clashes or injuries.

“Following [the activists'] unwillingness to cooperate, and after ignoring calls to divert to the port of Ashdod, the decision was made to board the vessels and lead them there,” Israel’s military said in a statement.

The Canadian boat, the Tahrir, and the Irish boat, Saoirse, called their effort “Freedom Waves,” sailing from Turkey on Wednesday with 27 international activists, journalists and crew on board.

“Israel has caged Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, prohibiting physical contact between us,” Palestinian student Majd Kayyal said in a statement from the Tahrir on Wednesday. “We want to break the siege Israel has imposed on our people.”

Israel responded quickly, saying the navy would block the small flotilla’s attempts to break the blockade around Gaza. Israel Defense Forces spokeswoman Avital Liebovich accused the boats of provocation, even referring to them as “provocatilla” on Twitter.

In addition to the land blockade around Gaza that tightly controls the flow of goods and people, there has been a maritime blockade around Gaza since 2009. Israel argues it is necessary to prevent weapons from being smuggled into Gaza for Hamas and other militant Islamist groups; critics say the blockade violates human rights.

In early September, the United Nations published the Palmer Report, which said the maritime blockade is justifiable under international law.

Activists say they will continue to try to sail to Gaza in the near future “to send the world and public opinion the message that Gaza is still under siege,” Huwaida Arraf from the Free Gaza Movement’s told Israel’s Haaretz newspaper. “The next boats will be launched in an organized manner, wave after wave, under the name Flotilla Waves of Freedom.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug192011

Terrorist Attacks Flourish Along Israeli Borders

An Israeli mourner cries during the funeral of a 22-year-old soldier at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem on August 19, 2011. Eight Israelis were killed in a string of attacks in the south of the country, prompting a series of Israeli air strikes targeting a Gaza group it said was responsible. AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- A string of terrorist attacks that left eight Israelis dead has sparked a new cycle of violence along Israel's southern border.

Israeli air strikes have claimed seven Palestinian lives. The Israeli army says it targeted a group called the Popular Resistance Committee which it believes was responsible for Thursday's deadly attacks. Some of its members are reportedly among the dead. In response, Gaza militants have fired over 10 rockets on cities in southern Israel, wounding seven.  Many Israelis are still reeling from the terrorist attacks.

The fact that the Palestinian militants entered Israel from the Sinai Peninsula has confirmed Israeli security officials worst fears that the border with Egypt is no longer secure.  Lawlessness has increased since the revolution and the fall of President Hosni Mubarak.  

Israel made an allowance in its treaty with Egypt and allowed the Egyptian army into the border area just last week to root out suspected Islamic militants.  Egyptian intelligence officials say some of the groups are linked to al Qaeda and are responsible for the recent attacks on the natural gas pipeline.  But Israeli officials now say they can't rely on Egyptian security forces. There's already talk of increasing Israel's military presence along the border and moving forward with plans to build a barrier.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
May282011

Egypt Opens Rafah Border after Four Year Blockage

Jeffrey Coolidge/Getty Images(RAFAH, Gaza Strip) -- Egypt permanently opened the critical Rafah border crossing on Saturday after a four year closure.

Gaza residents rejoiced with the opening of the crossing, which is the Gaza Strip's principle artery out of the territory.

Critics of the move say that it may allow combatants easier access. The crossing was closed in 2007 after Hamas militants challenged authority there.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Apr092011

Israel Continues Retaliatory Attacks, At Least a Dozen Dead

AFP / Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- Israeli retaliatory strikes on the Gaza Strip this weekend has left at least 13 Palestinians dead. This comes a day after a missile hit an Israeli school bus, wounding two people.

Israel has since retaliated against the militant Islamic group Hamas, saying that the group went too far by attacking a school bus. Hamas on Saturday denied intentionally targeting the bus.

Among those killed over the past two days were several civilians including a mother and her daughter, a farmer and an 11-year-old boy.

Hamas has announced a ceasefire, but Israeli forces continue to attack, saying it needs to prevent further attacks from Gaza.

Ten others were injured.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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