Tags: Israel | Hamas | Gaza

Israel Strikes House of Hamas Gaza Leader, Digs in for Long Fight

Image: Israel Strikes House of Hamas Gaza Leader, Digs in for Long Fight
Israeli 155mm artillery canons fire from a base in southern Israel into the Gaza Strip on July 28. (Jim Hollander/EPA/Landov)

Monday, 28 Jul 2014 11:36 PM

GAZA/JERUSALEM — Israel's military pounded targets in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country needed to be prepared for a long conflict in the Palestinian enclave, squashing any hopes of a swift end to 22 days of fighting.

In the latest development, Israeli aircraft fired a missile at the house of Hamas Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh before dawn on Tuesday causing damage but no casualties, Gaza's interior ministry said.

An Israeli military spokeswoman had no information on the report but was checking for details.

Hamas said that its broadcast outlets, Al-Aqsa TV and Al-Aqsa Radio were also targeted. The television station continued to broadcast, but the radio station went silent.

Israel launched its Gaza offensive on July 8, saying its aim was to halt rocket attacks by Hamas and its allies. It later ordered a land invasion to find and destroy the warren of Hamas tunnels that crisscrosses the border area.

In a televised address on Monday night, a grim-faced Netanyahu said any solution to the crisis would require the demilitarization of the Palestinian territory, which is controlled by Hamas Islamists and their militant allies.

"We will not finish the mission, we will not finish the operation without neutralizing the tunnels, which have the sole purpose of destroying our citizens, killing our children," Netanyahu said, adding that it had been a "painful day."

An opinion poll broadcast by Israel's Channel 10 television showed overwhelming Israeli public support for continuing the Gaza offensive until Hamas is "disarmed."

As night fell over Gaza, army flares illuminated the sky and the sound of intense shelling could be heard. The military warned thousands of Palestinians to flee their homes in areas around Gaza City — usually the prelude to major army strikes.

"We need to be prepared for a protracted campaign. We will continue to act with force and discretion until our mission is accomplished," Netanyahu said.

A number of rockets fired from Gaza were launched toward various regions in southern and central Israel, including the Tel Aviv area. At least one of the rockets was intercepted by the Iron Dome system. No casualties or damage were reported.

Gaza's dominant Hamas Islamists said they had accepted a U.N. call for a pause in hostilities on Monday to coincide with Eid, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

Israel initially balked, having abandoned its own offer to extend a 12-hour truce from Saturday when Palestinian rockets kept flying. However, calm gradually descended through the night with just the occasional exchange of fire heard until a series of blasts shook Gaza in the afternoon.

Both U.S. President Barack Obama and the U.N. Security Council urged an immediate ceasefire that would allow relief to reach Gaza's 1.8 million Palestinians, followed by negotiations on a more durable cessation of hostilities.

Israel wants guarantees Hamas will be stripped of its tunnels and rocket stocks. It worries the Palestinian Islamists will parlay the truce talks mediated by their friends in Qatar and Turkey into an easing of an Israeli-Egypt blockade on Gaza.

In his television address, Netanyahu said any solution to the crisis would need to see Hamas stripped of its weapons.

"The process of preventing the armament of the terror organization and demilitarization of the Gaza Strip must be part of any solution. And the international community must demand this forcefully," he said.

Israel has signaled it wants a de-facto halt to fighting rather than an agreement that would preserve Hamas's arsenals and shore up its status by improving Gaza's crippled economy.

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

 
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Israel's military pounded targets in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country needed to be prepared for a long conflict in the Palestinian enclave, squashing any hopes of a swift end to 22 days of fighting.
Israel, Hamas, Gaza
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2014-36-28
Monday, 28 Jul 2014 11:36 PM
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