Israel Vows To Defend Itself After Rocket Kills Civilians
November 15, 2012
Israel has warned it will take whatever action is necessary to defend its citizens as the military stepped up an operation in response to multiple Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on November 15 after a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip killed three Israeli civilians in a town some 25 kilometers from the border.
"No government would tolerate a situation where nearly a fifth of its people live under a constant barrage of rockets and missile fire, and Israel will not tolerate this situation. This is why my government has instructed the Israeli Defense Forces to conduct surgical strikes against the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza," Netanyahu said.
They were the first Israeli fatalities since November 14, when the military launched the operation into the Palestinian enclave which is controlled by the Islamist militant movement Hamas.
Israel's air, land, and sea bombardments have killed at least 13 Palestinians, including a number of children since November 14.
Netanyahu accused Hamas of using children as human shields for its rocket batteries, but said Israel will do everything to avoid civilian deaths.
"Hamas deliberately targets our children and they deliberately place their rockets next to their children. Now, despite this reality -- and it's a very difficult reality -- Israel will continue to do everything in its power to avoid civilian casualties," Netanyahu said.
The Palestinian Authority, which lost control of Gaza to Hamas in 2007, has called on Israel to immediately stop the offensive. Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, who now controls only the West Bank, still regards himself as the leader of all Palestinians.
Abbas has said he will interrupt his Western tour to promote enhanced Palestinian status at the United Nations and return to the West Bank immediately.
Egypt's Islamist President Muhammad Morsi said in televised remarks that Israel's "aggression" was "unacceptable."
Morsi said Cairo has protested to Israel through dipomatic channels.
"Our position yesterday was clear, and we expressed our position by withdrawing the Egyptian ambassador from Israel and recalled the Israeli ambassador to deliver to him a message through the Foreign Ministry on our position on the aggression against Gaza," Morsi said.
Hamas said Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil accompanied by officials will visit Gaza on November 16 in a show of support for the Palestinian enclave.
The United States on November 15 blamed Hamas for the explosion of violence and expressed regret for the victims on both sides.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said there was "no justification" for the violence on the part of Hamas, saying it "does nothing to help the Palestinians."
Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, and AP
Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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