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Israel strike kills 11 in Gaza, including children

By Ibrahim Barzak and Josef Federman

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 02:20 p.m. HST, Nov 18, 2012

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip >> An Israeli missile ripped through a two-story home in a residential area of Gaza City on Sunday, killing at least 11 civilians, including four young children and an 81-year-old woman, in the single deadliest attack of Israel's offensive against Islamic militants.

The bloodshed was likely to raise pressure on Israel to end the fighting, even as it pledged to intensify the offensive by striking the homes of wanted militants. High numbers of civilian casualties in an offensive four years ago led to fierce criticism and condemnation of Israel.

In all, 73 Palestinians, including 37 civilians, have been killed in the five-day onslaught. Three Israeli civilians have also died from Palestinian rocket fire.

President Barack Obama said he was in touch with players across the region in hopes of halting the fighting, while also warning of the risks of Israel expanding its air assault into a ground war.

"We're going to have to see what kind of progress we can make in the next 24, 36, 48 hours," Obama said during a visit in Thailand.

On the ground, there were no signs of any letup in the fighting as Israel announced it was widening the offensive to target the military commanders of the ruling Hamas group.

The Israeli military carried out dozens of airstrikes throughout the day, and naval forces bombarded targets along Gaza's Mediterranean coast. Many of the attacks focused on homes where militant leaders or weapons were believed to be hidden.

Palestinian militants continued to barrage Israel with rockets, firing more than 100 on Sunday, and setting off air raid sirens across the southern part of the country. Some 40 rockets were intercepted by Israel's U.S.-financed "Iron Dome" rocket-defense system, including two that targeted the metropolis of Tel Aviv. At least 10 Israelis were wounded by shrapnel.

Israel's decision to step up its attacks in Gaza marked a new and risky phase of the operation, given the likelihood of civilian casualties in the densely populated territory of 1.6 million Palestinians. Israel launched the offensive Wednesday in what it said was an effort to end months of intensifying rocket fire from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

In the day's deadliest violence, the Israeli navy fired at a home where it said a top wanted militant was hiding. The missile struck the home of the Daloo family in Gaza City, reducing the structure to rubble.

Frantic rescuers, bolstered by bulldozers, pulled the limp bodies of children from the ruins of the house, including a toddler and a 5-year-old, as survivors and bystanders screamed in grief. Later, the bodies of the children were laid out in the morgue of Gaza City's Shifa Hospital.

Among the 11 dead were four small children and five women, including an 81-year-old, Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra said.

More than a dozen homes of Hamas commanders or families linked to Hamas were struck on Sunday. Though most were empty — their inhabitants having fled to shelter — at least three had families in them. Al-Kidra said 20 of 27 people killed Sunday were civilians, mostly women and children.

Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, said that "the Israeli people will pay the price" for the killing of civilians.

Israel sought to place the blame on militants, saying they were intentionally operating in places inhabited by civilians. The military has released videos and images of what it says are militants firing rockets from mosques, schools and public buildings.

"Hamas is using the Gaza population as human shields," said Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the chief Israeli spokesman. "They are exploiting crowded residential urban areas."

He acknowledged, however, that it was not clear whether the militant targeted in Sunday's attack was killed, despite earlier claims of success. "I still don't know what became of him," Mordechai told Channel 10 TV.

The prospect of mounting civilian casualties could quickly change the momentum of Israel's operation. Israel launched the offensive on Wednesday with a lightning airstrike that killed Hamas' military chief. Since then, it has carried out a blistering campaign of more than 1,200 airstrikes, targeting suspected rocket storage and launching sites.

Israel also struck two high-rise buildings housing media outlets, damaging 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. Six Palestinian journalists were wounded, including one who lost a leg, the Gaza press association said.

Foreign broadcasters, including British, German and Italian TV outlets, also had offices in the buildings.

Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, an Israeli military spokeswoman, said the strikes targeted Hamas communications equipment on the rooftops. She accused the group of using journalists for cover.

Israeli officials expressed readiness to take the offensive even further with a ground invasion of Gaza. Israel has mobilized thousands of forces and columns of armored vehicles along the border ahead of a possible incursion.

"The Israeli military is prepared to significantly expand the operation," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting.

The threats come at an important crossroads — with a fateful choice between further escalation or agreeing to a cease-fire with Hamas. Israel and the West consider Hamas, which seized control of Gaza in 2007, to be a terrorist group.

Obama and British Foreign Secretary William Hague cautioned against a potential Israeli ground invasion of Gaza.

Obama blamed Palestinian militants for starting the round of fighting by raining rockets onto Israel and said the U.S. supported Israel's right to protect itself. "Israel has every right to expect that it does not have missiles fired into its territory," Obama said.

Hague also said Hamas "bears principal responsibility" for initiating the violence, but made clear the diplomatic risks of an Israeli escalation. "A ground invasion is much more difficult for the international community to sympathize with or support," he said.

A ground operation would carry grave risks, given the likelihood of heavy casualties on both sides. The Israeli offensive into Gaza four years ago left hundreds of civilians dead, drawing fierce international condemnation and war crimes accusations.

Israel says its intelligence and technology have been perfected since then to minimize civilian casualties. But Gaza's crowded urban landscape makes it all but impossible to avoid them altogether, as Sunday's attack in Gaza City illustrated.

"In this case, you can't avoid collateral damage if they position the rockets in densely populated areas, in mosques, school yards," said Israeli Vice Premier Moshe Yaalon. "We shouldn't be blamed for the outcome."

Avihai Mandelblit, a recently retired chief advocate general in the Israeli military, said that from a legal perspective, "there's no immunity to anyone if you put weapons inside of civilian infrastructure."

But he acknowledged the sight of dead civilians could create a public relations debacle for Israel. "As more civilians will get hurt, the legitimacy clock is going to click faster to end this operation," he said.

Obama said he had been in touch with Netanyahu as well as the leaders of Egypt and Turkey as international attempts to broker a cease-fire continued. Egypt, which often serves as a mediator between Israel and Hamas, has taken a leading role in the efforts.

Israeli TV stations said an Israeli envoy traveled to Cairo on Sunday, and was returning to Israel with details of cease-fire proposals. Channel 2 TV, citing American diplomats, said Netanyahu's personal envoy, Yitzhak Molcho, would be headed to Washington in the coming days.

Hamas officials said their supreme leader, Khaled Meshaal, also held talks with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, and that Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was to visit Gaza on Tuesday.

Israel and Gaza's militant Hamas rulers remain far apart on any terms for a halt to the bloodshed.

Hamas is linking a truce deal to a complete lifting of the border blockade on Gaza imposed since Islamists seized the territory by force. Hamas also seeks Israeli guarantees to halt targeted killings of its leaders and military commanders. Israeli officials reject such demands.

They say they are not interested in a "time-out," and want firm guarantees that militant rocket fire into Israel will end. Past cease-fires have been short lived.


Federman reported from Jerusalem. Associated Press Writer Lauren E. Bohn in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

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Graham wrote:
Why do the headlines always tell the deaths caused by the Israelis...but never the deaths caused by Hamas???
on November 18,2012 | 07:30AM
johncdechon wrote:
Because despite their denial, the press/media are biased (liberals) and therefore anti-Israel. But really, Israel has caused lots of its own problems: They should have deported ALL their enemies (sorry Palestinians PLUS all those so-called "Israeli-Arabs (what an oxymoron that is) back in the 70s after they won the "war" -- there wouldn't be any of them around today to give them grief, and it's only going to get worse (and that Golden Dome mosque should have been destroyed, too). Plus, Israel cares too much about World Opinon (and we interfere with them too much) -- they should go in there and raze those problem areas to the ground and be done with it. But they won't -- every few years they go in there and then leave -- nothing's really accomplished. And giving up "land for peace" was NEVER a good idea. What a joke "wars" are nowadays...
on November 18,2012 | 07:57AM
waikiicapt wrote:
Because it's just another MSM writer, hate the Jews and love the Palestinians. Same story, different day, same writers, same bias.
on November 18,2012 | 08:02AM
allie wrote:
just the opposite..rarely does the US media explain the rockets and place the antagonisms in context.
on November 18,2012 | 08:33AM
cojef wrote:
Your perceptions are outstanding. Our liberal media are only interested in reporting what is in their best interests. Like publicizing and stressing the talking points expounded by our Un ambassador own the Benghazi debacle..
on November 18,2012 | 10:41AM
cojef wrote:
Oops had typo of my previous post. "own s/b on"
on November 18,2012 | 10:44AM
HD36 wrote:
Cause only Jews will ask for change for a $20 bill and want 5 $5 bills back.
on November 18,2012 | 09:33PM
frontman wrote:
The terrorist muslims should not put their rockets by schools, shopping centers and on top of hospitals.
on November 19,2012 | 05:02AM
all_fed_up wrote:
Why cain't we all just get along?
on November 18,2012 | 07:55AM
waikiicapt wrote:
They can. Once the Palestinians stop firing rockets into Israel everyday, Israelis will leave them alone. They said so and promised to do it. But as long as the terrorists keep throwing rockets across the border into neighboring Israel, eventually they push back. Makes sense to me.
on November 18,2012 | 08:03AM
allie wrote:
ummm..check out why the rockets were fired in the first place.
on November 18,2012 | 08:33AM
Kapakahi wrote:
Wakiiicapt, What does it mean, in your view, to say the "Israelis will leave them alone."? The Israelis have them surrounded. The flow of food, medicines and essentials is being severely restricted. Movement into and out of the Palestinian areas is controlled by the Israelis. Palestinian fisherman are being shot as they fish in the sea. The Israelis continue to build settlements on land internationally recognized as belonging to the Palestinians.

While launching missiles into Israeli civilian areas is wrong, it is being down by a small minority of Palestinian militants in response to horrible conditions which continue to get worse and to which much of the world, the Americans more than most, have turned a blind eye.

The Israelis will NOT "leave them alone" if they stop firing off missiles.

on November 19,2012 | 09:11AM
johncdechon wrote:
Once again, unable to post due to censor...
on November 18,2012 | 07:57AM
frontman wrote:
When the muslims put their rockets next to their churches, play grounds and schools.....what do they expect and the ignorant newspapers print only their side, never Israels.
on November 18,2012 | 08:06AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Valid grievances and issues on both sides but only one side deliberately uses civilians as shields. That's barbaric and cowardly.
on November 18,2012 | 08:59AM
Anonymous wrote:
Wipe Hamas out!!!
on November 18,2012 | 10:04AM
allie wrote:
hard to cheer for either dreadful side actually
on November 18,2012 | 11:45AM
stingray65 wrote:
The question is, who shoot the first Rocket? The Hamas started it. Why not just leave those Israelis alone? I hope that the Israelis will flateen the whole Gaza.. Civilians? Kids? They grow up and do the same things to Israelis!! Therefore, give the Palistinians their own medicine..I just hope that Obama will just let the Israelis depends themselves.
on November 18,2012 | 10:08AM
st1d wrote:
the palestinian national charter expressly calls for the destruction of israel as a plo goal. thus, hamas and the plo can send over 100 rockets randomly into jerusalem with main stream media and american liberal moral superiority on their side.

this will never end until hamas and the plo achieve their goal, the destruction of israel.

on November 18,2012 | 02:25PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Hamas is a terrorist organization backed by Iran.
on November 18,2012 | 03:45PM
allie wrote:
Israel is deemed a terrorist state illegally occupying palestine and backed by the USA.
on November 18,2012 | 03:54PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Yeah, that's what the terrorists say. It's utter horse manure of course but it sells newspapers.
on November 18,2012 | 06:00PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
That, of course, is complete and utter twaddle,hon.
on November 18,2012 | 06:01PM
steelinhome wrote:
Why hasn't any Arab state taken the "Palestinians" into their country? Jordan flatly refused.
on November 19,2012 | 07:12AM
false wrote:
My comment was "sent for approval"-- probably because I used the word "Jews." If so, I find it curious the use of the word triggers the censor, while the word "Arab" does not.
on November 18,2012 | 05:37PM
false wrote:
So, THAT was not the trigger. Let me submit portions of the original post and see what triggers the censoring software. - - - - - - -

So much racism being expressed here against Palestinians for daring to fight back against the brutal occupation. Those posting here who claim Hamas is behind the rocket attacks are poorly informed. There are other groups within Gaza who have launched the missiles with Hamas actually helping crack down on them as part of a deal with the Israelis.

So why are the missiles launched against civilians in Israel? How many people are willing to "turn the other cheek" when their children are dying due to essential food and medicines being blockaded by a foreign occupier? If the Palestinian resistance had easy ways of targeting Israeli military personnel, I have little doubt the ratio of civilians being killed by Palestinians would drop dramatically. Perhaps the US government, if it wants to reduce the percentage of civilians killed by Palestinians, should provide the Palestinians with weapons as sophisticated as we provide to the IDF?

on November 18,2012 | 05:40PM
false wrote:

The Israelis have historically killed about 100 Palestinians for every Israeli who died as a result of Palestinian violence. Yes, the RATIO of dead civilian Israelis is worse than that of Palestinian civilians, but the absolute number of Palestinian civilians killed by Israelis greatly dwarfs those killed by Palestinians.

on November 18,2012 | 05:49PM
false wrote:

While that may seem an offensive suggestion, it has some moral validity. The Israelis have historically killed about 100 Palestinians for every Israeli who died as a result of Palestinian violence.

on November 18,2012 | 05:49PM
false wrote:

There is much the US government could do to help bring about peace. First, reduce foreign aid to Israel by the amount they spend in building settlements on Palestinian land. Second, stop protecting Israel when they commit war crimes or otherwise violate international law. Stop twisting arms at the UN to prevent other nations from criticizing Israel.

And the US media can make a special effort to evaluate their internal policies covering the Israel-Palestine conflict. How many Palestinian reporters do they employ covering the I-P conflict versus Jews? How many reporters do they have embedded with Palestinians, residing in Palestinian areas versus living in Israeli towns? Do they make affirmative efforts to carry columns written by Arab Americans, especially on Middle East subjects versus columns by American Jews?

on November 18,2012 | 05:50PM
false wrote:
Nothing I have written here is meant to imply all American Jews support the policies of the Israeli government. Many do not. Some of the strongest American critics of Israel are Jewish. But these writers are blacklisted by the major commercial media outlets. Take Noam Chomsky as the most obvious example. Highly regarded internationally as one of America's most prestigious thinkers, but blacklisted by the American press, whether when writing about the Middle East or US policy generally.

The US media could be a bit more introspective about its refusal to publish anti-Zionist Jewish writers in its columns. But I expect too much intellectual honesty from an openly biased corporate press.

on November 18,2012 | 05:57PM
steelinhome wrote:
"Moral validity" or "moral relativism"?
on November 19,2012 | 07:14AM
Mana07 wrote:
This article is shameless...Hamas has been randomly lobbing rockets into Isreal for 2 weeks. When Isreal fights back they're the bad guy......Boycott AP and Staradvertiser
on November 18,2012 | 06:36PM
HD36 wrote:
If you woke up everyday and your neighbor kept moving his fence line on your property and you kept losing 20 feet of your land a day, you might be a little pissed off too.
on November 18,2012 | 09:36PM
kuewa wrote:
Not only moving the fence, but also blocking all the roads to your property so that you can't even go grocery shopping. There are 2 sides to every story.
on November 19,2012 | 12:54AM
Publicbraddah wrote:
I don't get the Palestinians. They can't matchup to Israel's firepower and yet they insist of attacking them. Hamas is killing their own people by attacking Israel. Once again, all in the name of religion.
on November 19,2012 | 05:14AM
steelinhome wrote:
How else should Israel deal with those who are sworn to destroy her and kill all Jews? Any sovereign nation can be attacked by predators without and/or by parasites within.
on November 19,2012 | 07:12AM
saveparadise wrote:
These people have lived and died by the sword for generations. Imagine living a life fueled by hate. Just as strong as living a live of love and happiness for one another. They see us as weak and wanting material things while they live to die a martyr. Genocide seems to be the only solution. Humans of different race and religion will forever come to some degree of war. If you are poor or lack resources you will feel oppressed by the fortunate or ruling class. You believe in what you want to believe. Those that have nothing have nothing to lose.
on November 19,2012 | 07:50AM
Kapakahi wrote:

"Genocide seems to be the only solution."?

"These people have lived or died by the sword for generations.

Who do you mean by "these people"? For how many generations the Americans "lived by the sword"? Or does it not count as "by the sword" if the US kills with napalm, bombs, missiles? I guess "the sword" was used frequently enough as the Americans slaughtered the millions of indigenous Americans to steal their land. How many hundreds of thousands of Arabs died as a result of our illegal war against Iraq?

But your advocacy of genocide as the solution to the "Palestinian problem" is not that far off from the Israeli policy. They are a bit more subdued than you. They just want to make life so horrible for the Palestinians that they "self-deport" from historical Palestine to other countries, the further away, the better, so the project of building Greater Israel can continue on its course.

The US government has to feign an interest in a "two-state solution," but will be content if one of those "states" is broken into non-contiguous pieces, separated by armed barriers controlled by the other, unable to have access to the sea or to neighboring countries, unable to arm itself, unable to enter into bilateral relations with other countries and is totally economically unviable. An encircled Bantustan. We no longer officially support genocide.

on November 19,2012 | 08:25AM
Pacej001 wrote:
A. "Milions" of indigenous Americans weren't slaughtered. B.War with Iraq (use of force) approved by the US Congress. C. Palestinians chose to attack Israel first in the current instance. D. Two state solution not possible if one of the parties(Palestinians) will never agree to it and insists on destruction of the other state. E. A two state solution was possible as brokered by Clinton, but rejected by Arafat. F. There is no genocide other than that proposed by the Palestinians. G. Your opinions are emotion based, not fact based.
on November 19,2012 | 08:57AM
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