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Rocket fired at Tel Aviv, more strikes in Gaza

By Ibrahim Barzak and Tia Goldenberg

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 01:12 a.m. HST, Nov 18, 2012

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip »  Israeli strikes hit two media centers in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, as Israel warned it was widening its range of targets to go after military commanders of the territory's Hamas rulers. Palestinian militants meanwhile fired at least one more long-range rocket at Tel Aviv, the fourth day in a row which the Israeli heartland has come under fire.

The Israeli strikes, apparently missiles, hit two high-rise buildings. They damaged the top floor offices of the Hamas TV station, Al Aqsa, and a Lebanese-based broadcaster, Al Quds TV, seen as sympathetic to the Islamists.

A Gaza press association said six Palestinian journalists were wounded. Foreign broadcasters, including German and Italian TV outlets, also had offices in the high-rises.

The Israeli military said it was aiming at a communications antenna on the roof of one of the buildings. It had no immediate comment on the other strike.

The military also said another long-range rocket was launched at Tel Aviv, but that it was intercepted by the "Iron Dome" missile defense system. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that two rockets were fired. It was impossible to immediately reconcile the two reports.

On Sunday, five Palestinian civilians were killed in airstrikes, including four children ranging in age from one to seven, according to Ashraf al-Kidra, a Gaza health official. Two of the children, a 3-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy, were from the same family and were killed by an airstrike on their home in the Jebaliya refugee camp.

The deaths bring to 51 the number of Palestinians killed since the operation began on Wednesday. One third of the dead were civilians, and more than 400 civilians have been wounded, al-Kidra said. On the Israeli side, three civilians have been killed and more than 50 wounded by rocket fire.

Israel's military spokesman warned that Israel would go after Hamas commanders Sunday, in addition to rocket squads, in "more targeted, more surgical and more deadly" attacks.

Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai made the threat as Israel found itself at the crossroads of whether to launch a ground invasion or pursue Egyptian-led truce efforts. Israel has said it is not prepared to enter into a truce without guarantees the rocket fire won't resume.

Early Sunday, the military carried out dozens of attacks on rocket-launching sites, a major training base and the attacks on the two media centers. Israeli gunboats also fired on militant sites on the Gaza shore line, the military said without elaborating.

Gaza militants have widened their rocket range, compared to previous conflicts, firing rockets toward Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and putting 3.5 million Israelis, or nearly half the country's population, within reach.

Mordechai, the Israeli military spokesman, told Army Radio that despite truce efforts, the military has been ordered to intensify its attacks, following a late-night meeting led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

"I imagine in the next few hours, we will see ongoing targeted attacks on gunmen and Hamas commanders," Mordechai said. "More targeted, more surgical and more deadly."

Israel launched its military campaign on Wednesday, after months of renewed rocket fire from Gaza, by assassinating Hamas' military chief in an airstrike. Since then, it has relentlessly targeted suspected rocket-launching and storage sites.

Israeli Defense Ministry director Udi Shani told Army Radio that Israel's operation against Gaza militants was not meant to topple the Islamic militant Hamas, but to cripple its capabilities to attack Israel.

"If we don't achieve our goals from the air, we will have to enter by ground," Shani said. "I hope in the coming days it will be decided."

The air attacks initially focused on Hamas military targets, but gradually have expanded to include symbols of Hamas power.

Six journalists were wounded in the attacks on the media targets, including one who lost a leg, the Gaza journalists' association said.

Bassem Madhoun, an employee of Dubai TV, said two missiles scored a direct hit on Al Aqsa TV's 15th floor offices in one of the buildings.

Building windows were blown out and glass shards and debris were scattered on the street below. Some of the journalists who had been inside the building at the time took cover in the entrance hallway.

Mohammed Shrafi, a Palestinian cameraman, said he was in the street filming when he was hit by shrapnel coming down from the building.

Asked why Israel was targeting media centers, he replied, "they want to keep us from telling the truth."

The Israeli military also appeared to take over the frequencies of the radio stations of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad militant group to broadcast a recorded, Arabic-language warning to the people of Gaza to stay away from Hamas installations and personnel.

"To the people of Gaza, Hamas is playing with fire and gambling with your fate," said the message, which was broadcast every five minutes. "The Israel Defense Force is moving toward the second phase of its operation. For your safety, you should stay away from Hamas infrastructure and personnel."

The message did not say what the "second phase" was, but thousands of Israeli troops are massed near the Gaza border, awaiting an order to invade should Israeli leaders decide on that course. Israeli Vice Premier Moshe Yaalon told Army Radio that Israel has to be prepared to widen the operation if militants don't back down.

The military spokesman's office said it could not confirm it was broadcasting this message, but said it has issued similar warnings over the radio several days ago.

In Iran, Israel's arch-foe, parliament speaker Ali Larijani urged Islamic countries to send weapons for Palestinians.

"Today, serious military help is expected. Why can the United States and the West hand over weapons to the Zionist regime, or Israel, but weapons should not be given to Palestine?" state radio broadcast Larijani telling parliament.

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Pacej001 wrote:
Let's try a little thought experiment: Just across the border, from one of our major cities, Al Qaeda has taken up residence. Full of interminable hatred for the US (some for cause, but mainly unjustified) they have allied with Iran to build a stockpile of long range missiles capable of striking most of the major urban areas of the country. From what we call the Al Qaeda strip, they occasionally attack our military forces and fire missiles indiscriminately at our cities' civilian population, using their own destitute civilian population as shield against counter attack. Question: What would/should we do? A. Show restraint and understanding in accordance with the wishes of the UN? B. Respond with just enough force to cause the attacks to pause. or C. Destroy the capacity of those in the Al Qaeda strip to ever attack our cities and civilian population again?
on November 17,2012 | 07:36AM
al_kiqaeda wrote:
Great post. I was heartened by the fact that the Israelis have been making hundreds of phone calls and text messages to the areas that they intend to bomb to warn citizens to stay away from target areas. Unfortunately, that also make the bombing somewhat ineffective. Since the insurgents are not uniformed it make it very difficult for an army to fight it out man to man. We, in early colonial days, did the same thing to the Brits with great success.
on November 17,2012 | 08:08AM
al_kiqaeda wrote:
We're trying out best to keep this a fight with only the extremest. But unless the Muslim world gets some sack to police their own screwballs I fear one day this will become a Muslim vs. "the rest of us" war one day. And with all the unaccounted fissionable material "out there" it could get really tragic. We need to get off foreign oil as soon as possible.
on November 17,2012 | 08:19AM
cojef wrote:
No inference can be made of the current problem there in the MiddleEast and your hypothesis. The land Israel occupies was create in 1948 by a mandate out of an area with historical significance to Jewish as well as Palestian settlements from Biblical times. Therein lies the core of the issue and problems that beset the factions. Each side believes it has an inalienable right to the a portion of land the other is in possession of. It is not about terrorism or violence, it is about national sovereignty of the land. Al Qaeda issues with US are vastly different and cannot be put into the same context.
on November 17,2012 | 08:28AM
Pacej001 wrote:
I can infer, from my hypothesis, that, if we were in the place of Israel, we would, in lieu of national suicide (the fundamental Palestinian demand) choose option C. No politician, left or right, could stand for a minute if he/she chose to placate the terrorists and allowed the missiles to continue to rain down. Iranian involvement in Gaza and Lebanon would make such a position equally impossible for an American politician. Does the "rightness" of the Palestinian cause justify the means. Only if you're not the one on the receiving end of Iranian supplied missiles and only if you aren't living in a country that would be fundamentally destroyed by meeting the Palestinian's unchangeable demand for the right of return. What you folks on the left seem to forget is that righting the wrong done the Palestinians, on terms they insist on, would just create another great wrong, this time perpetrated on the Israelis.
on November 17,2012 | 10:44AM
Pacej001 wrote:
Also, as long as misguided citizens and politicians give the Palestinians hope that we'd ever accept what would amount to the destruction of Israel, we are being accomplices to the continuation of mindless violence. The existence of Israel is a fact of life. There will be no resolution of this conflict until the Palestinians (and the Iranians) acknowledge that.
on November 17,2012 | 10:51AM
cojef wrote:
You have changed the issues. You are now using rhetoric without foundation by inferring that writer of the post is liberal. That is further from the truth as my voting record speaks otherwise. Haven't missed voting since 1954.
on November 17,2012 | 03:21PM
Pacej001 wrote:
You may be correct, logically speaking, but these days the voices support for the Palestinian viewpoint seem to be coming from US liberals, although, like global warming, it really isn't an issue that should fit in one political camp and not the other.
on November 17,2012 | 04:32PM
64hoo wrote:
the middleeast is not about a palistinan state its about the destruction of isreal . hamas and other muslim countries in the middle east is the elimanation of isreal. thats what the hamas charter is about. the palistanians in gaza don't want peace.
on November 17,2012 | 01:27PM
Ronin006 wrote:
Israel should invade Gaza and re-occupy it as it did a few years ago. Palestinians lived much better under Israel occupation than they have lived under Hamas after Israel withdrew.
on November 17,2012 | 08:11AM
serious wrote:
Yes, as while they are at it---wipe out the nuke plant in Iran!!
on November 17,2012 | 08:22AM
al_kiqaeda wrote:
You suggestion might be fulfilled. A large Israeli military build up started a couple of days ago and 75000 reservists were called up .
on November 17,2012 | 08:24AM
HD36 wrote:
The Sixth Seal has been broken.
on November 17,2012 | 08:36AM
RichardCory wrote:
Well, then since the world is going to be ending soon and you're about to be raptured away, how about you give me everything you own so that it can at least get put to good use while you wait? I'm still going to be here during the "Tribulation", so your assistance will be much appreciated while I prepare by underground Apocalypse bunker.
on November 17,2012 | 11:24AM
IAmSane wrote:
God, shut up.
on November 17,2012 | 01:06PM
Kuniarr wrote:
The shooting down of a Hamas rocket aimed at Tel Aviv is the beginning of a new era of Defense against Short, Mid, and Long range Ballistic missiles.
on November 17,2012 | 08:53AM
DABLACK wrote:
In order for Isreal to exist....They gotta nail Iran first, then ina few seconds...nail Hamas. But please, notify Egypt that if they think otherwise....remember they '67 war ??
on November 17,2012 | 09:52AM
1local wrote:
Iran is next. Iran's nuclear facility will be targeted...
on November 17,2012 | 10:27AM
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