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Israel hits key Hamas targets in Gaza offensive

KDWN

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel stepped up its offensive on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on Wednesday, pummeling scores of targets and killing at least 22 people as Israeli leaders signaled a weeks-long ground invasion could be quickly approaching.

The military said it struck about 200 Hamas targets on the second day of its offensive, which it says is needed to end incessant rocket attacks out of Gaza. Militants, however, continued to fire rocket salvos deep into Israeli territory, and Israel mobilized thousands of forces along the Gaza border ahead of a possible ground operation.

“The army is ready for all possibilities,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after holding a meeting of his Security Cabinet. “Hamas will pay a heavy price for firing toward Israeli citizens. The security of Israel’s citizens comes first. The operation will expand and continue until the fire toward our towns stops and quiet returns.”

The fighting stepped up as Egypt, which often serves as a mediator between Israel and the Palestinians, said it was in contact with both sides to end the violence. It was the first indication since the offensive was launched on Tuesday that cease-fire efforts might be under way.

The offensive has set off the heaviest fighting between Israel and the Islamic militant group Hamas since an eight-day battle in November 2012. As the death toll continued to rise, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of committing “genocide.”

Israeli leaders warned a ground invasion could be imminent.

“Despite the fact it will be hard, complicated and costly, we will have to take over Gaza temporarily, for a few weeks, to cut off the strengthening of this terror army,” Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s intelligence minister, told Israel Radio. “If you ask my humble opinion, a significant operation like this is approaching.”

The government has authorized the army to activate up to 40,000 reservists for a ground operation. An Israeli government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was discussing Israeli tactical strategy, said the reservists would be sent to the West Bank to allow active duty troops to amass near the Gaza border.

Despite the tough threats, Israeli security officials are still hesitant about ordering a ground invasion due to the many risks. Entering Gaza could lead to heavy civilian casualties on the Palestinian side while putting Israeli ground forces in danger.

It remains unclear whether the international community would support such an operation, or how Israel would end it. Officials have little desire to retake control of Gaza, a densely populated territory of 1.8 million people from which Israel withdrew in 2005.

Since the offensive began Tuesday, Israel has attacked at least 560 sites in Gaza, the military said. Militants have fired more than 160 rockets at Israel, reaching further north than ever before.

Palestinian medics say a total of 49 people have been killed in Gaza, including 22 on Wednesday. Of the total dead, medical officials have confirmed at least 15 are civilians and 10 militants, with the remainder uncertain. The rocket fire from Gaza has not caused any serious Israeli casualties.

The Israeli onslaught has caused panic in Gaza. A number of airstrikes aimed at wanted militants have also killed family members and bystanders. Many residents have huddled indoors or moved from hard-hit areas to relatives in areas that are believed to be safer.

Gaza health official Ashraf al-Qidra said that an 80-year-old woman was among those killed Wednesday.

Hamas official Musheer al-Masri said Israel had “crossed all the red lines” and warned that Hamas would strike back fiercely. “What the resistance showed today is only part of what it is capable of,” he said.

The increasing range of the rockets from Gaza has disrupted life across a wide swath of southern and central Israel, where people have been forced to remain close to home and kindergartens and summer camps have been forced to close.

Besides firing toward Israel’s two largest population centers in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Hamas also fired one rocket that reached the northern Israeli city of Hadera for the first time, effectively putting the entire country under rocket range from the north and south. The city is more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Gaza and was struck in 2006 by missiles from Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.

“We got it from both directions,” said Maayan From, a 25-year-old Hadera resident. “Our enemies have developed and it is getting scary. We have to put an end to this.”

On Wednesday, Hamas rockets reached even further north than Hadera.

“It’s still hard to digest that we are within their range. It changed the way you think,” said Ina Marchovsky, 43. “We are full of hope that was the first and last rocket we will see. But I don’t know.”

Israel and Hamas are bitter enemies and have fought numerous times over the years. But until recently they had been observing a truce that ended the previous hostilities in 2012.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi spoke to the Palestinian president, Abbas, on Tuesday evening to review the latest developments, according to el-Sissi’s office.

Abbas, who has minimal influence in Gaza, has appealed to Israel to halt its offensive. “Egypt has made extensive contacts with all active and concerned parties to spare the Palestinian people the scourge of Israeli military operations,” el-Sissi’s office said.

It was not clear whether the contacts included formal efforts to reach a cease-fire, or whether Egypt was speaking to Hamas. The new Egyptian government has poor relations with Hamas.

In Ramallah, Abbas condemned the Israeli offensive, accusing Israel of committing “genocide” due to the mounting civilian death toll and said it raised questions about Israel’s commitment to peace. “Do these actions indicate that we should live with two states?” he said.

Tensions have been rising since the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank on June 12. Israel accused Hamas of being behind the abductions, although it provided no proof.

Israel then launched a crackdown on the group’s members in the West Bank and arrested hundreds of people. Hamas, which controls Gaza, responded by stepping up rocket fire.

The situation deteriorated last week after the bodies of the three were found, followed a day later by the abduction of Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem – who was later found burned to death in what Palestinians believe was a revenge attack. Six Jewish Israelis were arrested in the killing.

Hamas is far weaker than the last round of fighting with Israel in 2012.

At the time, Egypt was governed by the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas’ close ally. Following its ouster in 2013, Egypt’s new government became hostile to Hamas and closed a network of smuggling tunnels used by the group as an economic lifeline, and as a way to smuggle in rockets.

—-

Associated Press Correspondent Aron Heller contributed to the report from Hadera, Israel.

Israel hits key Hamas targets in Gaza offensive

KDWN

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel stepped up its offensive on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on Wednesday, pummeling scores of targets and killing at least 22 people as Israeli leaders signaled a weeks-long ground invasion could be quickly approaching.

The military said it struck about 200 Hamas targets on the second day of its offensive, which it says is needed to end incessant rocket attacks out of Gaza. Militants, however, continued to fire rocket salvos deep into Israeli territory, and Israel mobilized thousands of forces along the Gaza border ahead of a possible ground operation.

“The army is ready for all possibilities,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after holding a meeting of his Security Cabinet. “Hamas will pay a heavy price for firing toward Israeli citizens. The security of Israel’s citizens comes first. The operation will expand and continue until the fire toward our towns stops and quiet returns.”

The fighting stepped up as Egypt, which often serves as a mediator between Israel and the Palestinians, said it was in contact with both sides to end the violence. It was the first indication since the offensive was launched on Tuesday that cease-fire efforts might be under way.

The offensive has set off the heaviest fighting between Israel and the Islamic militant group Hamas since an eight-day battle in November 2012. As the death toll continued to rise, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of committing “genocide.”

Israeli leaders warned a ground invasion could be imminent.

“Despite the fact it will be hard, complicated and costly, we will have to take over Gaza temporarily, for a few weeks, to cut off the strengthening of this terror army,” Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s intelligence minister, told Israel Radio. “If you ask my humble opinion, a significant operation like this is approaching.”

The government has authorized the army to activate up to 40,000 reservists for a ground operation. An Israeli government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was discussing Israeli tactical strategy, said the reservists would be sent to the West Bank to allow active duty troops to amass near the Gaza border.

Despite the tough threats, Israeli security officials are still hesitant about ordering a ground invasion due to the many risks. Entering Gaza could lead to heavy civilian casualties on the Palestinian side while putting Israeli ground forces in danger.

It remains unclear whether the international community would support such an operation, or how Israel would end it. Officials have little desire to retake control of Gaza, a densely populated territory of 1.8 million people from which Israel withdrew in 2005.

Since the offensive began Tuesday, Israel has attacked at least 560 sites in Gaza, the military said. Militants have fired more than 160 rockets at Israel, reaching further north than ever before.

Palestinian medics say a total of 49 people have been killed in Gaza, including 22 on Wednesday. Of the total dead, medical officials have confirmed at least 15 are civilians and 10 militants, with the remainder uncertain. The rocket fire from Gaza has not caused any serious Israeli casualties.

The Israeli onslaught has caused panic in Gaza. A number of airstrikes aimed at wanted militants have also killed family members and bystanders. Many residents have huddled indoors or moved from hard-hit areas to relatives in areas that are believed to be safer.

Gaza health official Ashraf al-Qidra said that an 80-year-old woman was among those killed Wednesday.

Hamas official Musheer al-Masri said Israel had “crossed all the red lines” and warned that Hamas would strike back fiercely. “What the resistance showed today is only part of what it is capable of,” he said.

The increasing range of the rockets from Gaza has disrupted life across a wide swath of southern and central Israel, where people have been forced to remain close to home and kindergartens and summer camps have been forced to close.

Besides firing toward Israel’s two largest population centers in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Hamas also fired one rocket that reached the northern Israeli city of Hadera for the first time, effectively putting the entire country under rocket range from the north and south. The city is more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Gaza and was struck in 2006 by missiles from Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.

“We got it from both directions,” said Maayan From, a 25-year-old Hadera resident. “Our enemies have developed and it is getting scary. We have to put an end to this.”

On Wednesday, Hamas rockets reached even further north than Hadera.

“It’s still hard to digest that we are within their range. It changed the way you think,” said Ina Marchovsky, 43. “We are full of hope that was the first and last rocket we will see. But I don’t know.”

Israel and Hamas are bitter enemies and have fought numerous times over the years. But until recently they had been observing a truce that ended the previous hostilities in 2012.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi spoke to the Palestinian president, Abbas, on Tuesday evening to review the latest developments, according to el-Sissi’s office.

Abbas, who has minimal influence in Gaza, has appealed to Israel to halt its offensive. “Egypt has made extensive contacts with all active and concerned parties to spare the Palestinian people the scourge of Israeli military operations,” el-Sissi’s office said.

It was not clear whether the contacts included formal efforts to reach a cease-fire, or whether Egypt was speaking to Hamas. The new Egyptian government has poor relations with Hamas.

In Ramallah, Abbas condemned the Israeli offensive, accusing Israel of committing “genocide” due to the mounting civilian death toll and said it raised questions about Israel’s commitment to peace. “Do these actions indicate that we should live with two states?” he said.

Tensions have been rising since the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank on June 12. Israel accused Hamas of being behind the abductions, although it provided no proof.

Israel then launched a crackdown on the group’s members in the West Bank and arrested hundreds of people. Hamas, which controls Gaza, responded by stepping up rocket fire.

The situation deteriorated last week after the bodies of the three were found, followed a day later by the abduction of Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem – who was later found burned to death in what Palestinians believe was a revenge attack. Six Jewish Israelis were arrested in the killing.

Hamas is far weaker than the last round of fighting with Israel in 2012.

At the time, Egypt was governed by the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas’ close ally. Following its ouster in 2013, Egypt’s new government became hostile to Hamas and closed a network of smuggling tunnels used by the group as an economic lifeline, and as a way to smuggle in rockets.

—-

Associated Press Correspondent Aron Heller contributed to the report from Hadera, Israel.

Israel hits key Hamas targets in Gaza offensive

KDWN

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel stepped up its offensive on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on Wednesday, pummeling scores of targets and killing at least 22 people as Israeli leaders signaled a weeks-long ground invasion could be quickly approaching.

The military said it struck about 200 Hamas targets on the second day of its offensive, which it says is needed to end incessant rocket attacks out of Gaza. Militants, however, continued to fire rocket salvos deep into Israeli territory, and Israel mobilized thousands of forces along the Gaza border ahead of a possible ground operation.

“The army is ready for all possibilities,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after holding a meeting of his Security Cabinet. “Hamas will pay a heavy price for firing toward Israeli citizens. The security of Israel’s citizens comes first. The operation will expand and continue until the fire toward our towns stops and quiet returns.”

The fighting stepped up as Egypt, which often serves as a mediator between Israel and the Palestinians, said it was in contact with both sides to end the violence. It was the first indication since the offensive was launched on Tuesday that cease-fire efforts might be under way.

The offensive has set off the heaviest fighting between Israel and the Islamic militant group Hamas since an eight-day battle in November 2012. As the death toll continued to rise, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of committing “genocide.”

Israeli leaders warned a ground invasion could be imminent.

“Despite the fact it will be hard, complicated and costly, we will have to take over Gaza temporarily, for a few weeks, to cut off the strengthening of this terror army,” Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s intelligence minister, told Israel Radio. “If you ask my humble opinion, a significant operation like this is approaching.”

The government has authorized the army to activate up to 40,000 reservists for a ground operation. An Israeli government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was discussing Israeli tactical strategy, said the reservists would be sent to the West Bank to allow active duty troops to amass near the Gaza border.

Despite the tough threats, Israeli security officials are still hesitant about ordering a ground invasion due to the many risks. Entering Gaza could lead to heavy civilian casualties on the Palestinian side while putting Israeli ground forces in danger.

It remains unclear whether the international community would support such an operation, or how Israel would end it. Officials have little desire to retake control of Gaza, a densely populated territory of 1.8 million people from which Israel withdrew in 2005.

Since the offensive began Tuesday, Israel has attacked at least 560 sites in Gaza, the military said. Militants have fired more than 160 rockets at Israel, reaching further north than ever before.

Palestinian medics say a total of 49 people have been killed in Gaza, including 22 on Wednesday. Of the total dead, medical officials have confirmed at least 15 are civilians and 10 militants, with the remainder uncertain. The rocket fire from Gaza has not caused any serious Israeli casualties.

The Israeli onslaught has caused panic in Gaza. A number of airstrikes aimed at wanted militants have also killed family members and bystanders. Many residents have huddled indoors or moved from hard-hit areas to relatives in areas that are believed to be safer.

Gaza health official Ashraf al-Qidra said that an 80-year-old woman was among those killed Wednesday.

Hamas official Musheer al-Masri said Israel had “crossed all the red lines” and warned that Hamas would strike back fiercely. “What the resistance showed today is only part of what it is capable of,” he said.

The increasing range of the rockets from Gaza has disrupted life across a wide swath of southern and central Israel, where people have been forced to remain close to home and kindergartens and summer camps have been forced to close.

Besides firing toward Israel’s two largest population centers in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Hamas also fired one rocket that reached the northern Israeli city of Hadera for the first time, effectively putting the entire country under rocket range from the north and south. The city is more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Gaza and was struck in 2006 by missiles from Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.

“We got it from both directions,” said Maayan From, a 25-year-old Hadera resident. “Our enemies have developed and it is getting scary. We have to put an end to this.”

On Wednesday, Hamas rockets reached even further north than Hadera.

“It’s still hard to digest that we are within their range. It changed the way you think,” said Ina Marchovsky, 43. “We are full of hope that was the first and last rocket we will see. But I don’t know.”

Israel and Hamas are bitter enemies and have fought numerous times over the years. But until recently they had been observing a truce that ended the previous hostilities in 2012.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi spoke to the Palestinian president, Abbas, on Tuesday evening to review the latest developments, according to el-Sissi’s office.

Abbas, who has minimal influence in Gaza, has appealed to Israel to halt its offensive. “Egypt has made extensive contacts with all active and concerned parties to spare the Palestinian people the scourge of Israeli military operations,” el-Sissi’s office said.

It was not clear whether the contacts included formal efforts to reach a cease-fire, or whether Egypt was speaking to Hamas. The new Egyptian government has poor relations with Hamas.

In Ramallah, Abbas condemned the Israeli offensive, accusing Israel of committing “genocide” due to the mounting civilian death toll and said it raised questions about Israel’s commitment to peace. “Do these actions indicate that we should live with two states?” he said.

Tensions have been rising since the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank on June 12. Israel accused Hamas of being behind the abductions, although it provided no proof.

Israel then launched a crackdown on the group’s members in the West Bank and arrested hundreds of people. Hamas, which controls Gaza, responded by stepping up rocket fire.

The situation deteriorated last week after the bodies of the three were found, followed a day later by the abduction of Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem – who was later found burned to death in what Palestinians believe was a revenge attack. Six Jewish Israelis were arrested in the killing.

Hamas is far weaker than the last round of fighting with Israel in 2012.

At the time, Egypt was governed by the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas’ close ally. Following its ouster in 2013, Egypt’s new government became hostile to Hamas and closed a network of smuggling tunnels used by the group as an economic lifeline, and as a way to smuggle in rockets.

—-

Associated Press Correspondent Aron Heller contributed to the report from Hadera, Israel.

Israel hits key Hamas targets in Gaza offensive

KDWN

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel stepped up its offensive on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on Wednesday, pummeling scores of targets and killing at least 22 people as Israeli leaders signaled a weeks-long ground invasion could be quickly approaching.

The military said it struck about 200 Hamas targets on the second day of its offensive, which it says is needed to end incessant rocket attacks out of Gaza. Militants, however, continued to fire rocket salvos deep into Israeli territory, and Israel mobilized thousands of forces along the Gaza border ahead of a possible ground operation.

“The army is ready for all possibilities,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after holding a meeting of his Security Cabinet. “Hamas will pay a heavy price for firing toward Israeli citizens. The security of Israel’s citizens comes first. The operation will expand and continue until the fire toward our towns stops and quiet returns.”

The fighting stepped up as Egypt, which often serves as a mediator between Israel and the Palestinians, said it was in contact with both sides to end the violence. It was the first indication since the offensive was launched on Tuesday that cease-fire efforts might be under way.

The offensive has set off the heaviest fighting between Israel and the Islamic militant group Hamas since an eight-day battle in November 2012. As the death toll continued to rise, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of committing “genocide.”

Israeli leaders warned a ground invasion could be imminent.

“Despite the fact it will be hard, complicated and costly, we will have to take over Gaza temporarily, for a few weeks, to cut off the strengthening of this terror army,” Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s intelligence minister, told Israel Radio. “If you ask my humble opinion, a significant operation like this is approaching.”

The government has authorized the army to activate up to 40,000 reservists for a ground operation. An Israeli government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was discussing Israeli tactical strategy, said the reservists would be sent to the West Bank to allow active duty troops to amass near the Gaza border.

Despite the tough threats, Israeli security officials are still hesitant about ordering a ground invasion due to the many risks. Entering Gaza could lead to heavy civilian casualties on the Palestinian side while putting Israeli ground forces in danger.

It remains unclear whether the international community would support such an operation, or how Israel would end it. Officials have little desire to retake control of Gaza, a densely populated territory of 1.8 million people from which Israel withdrew in 2005.

Since the offensive began Tuesday, Israel has attacked at least 560 sites in Gaza, the military said. Militants have fired more than 160 rockets at Israel, reaching further north than ever before.

Palestinian medics say a total of 49 people have been killed in Gaza, including 22 on Wednesday. Of the total dead, medical officials have confirmed at least 15 are civilians and 10 militants, with the remainder uncertain. The rocket fire from Gaza has not caused any serious Israeli casualties.

The Israeli onslaught has caused panic in Gaza. A number of airstrikes aimed at wanted militants have also killed family members and bystanders. Many residents have huddled indoors or moved from hard-hit areas to relatives in areas that are believed to be safer.

Gaza health official Ashraf al-Qidra said that an 80-year-old woman was among those killed Wednesday.

Hamas official Musheer al-Masri said Israel had “crossed all the red lines” and warned that Hamas would strike back fiercely. “What the resistance showed today is only part of what it is capable of,” he said.

The increasing range of the rockets from Gaza has disrupted life across a wide swath of southern and central Israel, where people have been forced to remain close to home and kindergartens and summer camps have been forced to close.

Besides firing toward Israel’s two largest population centers in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Hamas also fired one rocket that reached the northern Israeli city of Hadera for the first time, effectively putting the entire country under rocket range from the north and south. The city is more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Gaza and was struck in 2006 by missiles from Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.

“We got it from both directions,” said Maayan From, a 25-year-old Hadera resident. “Our enemies have developed and it is getting scary. We have to put an end to this.”

On Wednesday, Hamas rockets reached even further north than Hadera.

“It’s still hard to digest that we are within their range. It changed the way you think,” said Ina Marchovsky, 43. “We are full of hope that was the first and last rocket we will see. But I don’t know.”

Israel and Hamas are bitter enemies and have fought numerous times over the years. But until recently they had been observing a truce that ended the previous hostilities in 2012.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi spoke to the Palestinian president, Abbas, on Tuesday evening to review the latest developments, according to el-Sissi’s office.

Abbas, who has minimal influence in Gaza, has appealed to Israel to halt its offensive. “Egypt has made extensive contacts with all active and concerned parties to spare the Palestinian people the scourge of Israeli military operations,” el-Sissi’s office said.

It was not clear whether the contacts included formal efforts to reach a cease-fire, or whether Egypt was speaking to Hamas. The new Egyptian government has poor relations with Hamas.

In Ramallah, Abbas condemned the Israeli offensive, accusing Israel of committing “genocide” due to the mounting civilian death toll and said it raised questions about Israel’s commitment to peace. “Do these actions indicate that we should live with two states?” he said.

Tensions have been rising since the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank on June 12. Israel accused Hamas of being behind the abductions, although it provided no proof.

Israel then launched a crackdown on the group’s members in the West Bank and arrested hundreds of people. Hamas, which controls Gaza, responded by stepping up rocket fire.

The situation deteriorated last week after the bodies of the three were found, followed a day later by the abduction of Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem – who was later found burned to death in what Palestinians believe was a revenge attack. Six Jewish Israelis were arrested in the killing.

Hamas is far weaker than the last round of fighting with Israel in 2012.

At the time, Egypt was governed by the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas’ close ally. Following its ouster in 2013, Egypt’s new government became hostile to Hamas and closed a network of smuggling tunnels used by the group as an economic lifeline, and as a way to smuggle in rockets.

—-

Associated Press Correspondent Aron Heller contributed to the report from Hadera, Israel.

Israel hits key Hamas targets in Gaza offensive

KDWN

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel stepped up its offensive on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on Wednesday, pummeling scores of targets and killing at least 14 people as Israeli leaders signaled a weeks-long ground invasion could be quickly approaching.

The military said it struck about 200 Hamas targets on the second day of its offensive, which it says is needed to end incessant rocket attacks out of Gaza. Militants, however, continued to fire rocket salvos deep into Israeli territory, and Israel mobilized thousands of forces along the Gaza border ahead of a possible ground operation.

“The army is ready for all possibilities,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after holding a meeting of his Security Cabinet. “Hamas will pay a heavy price for firing toward Israeli citizens. The security of Israel’s citizens comes first. The operation will expand and continue until the fire toward our towns stops and quiet returns.”

The fighting stepped up as Egypt, which often serves as a mediator between Israel and the Palestinians, said it was in contact with both sides to end the violence. It was the first indication since the offensive was launched on Tuesday that cease-fire efforts might be under way.

The offensive has set off the heaviest fighting between Israel and the Islamic militant group Hamas since an eight-day battle in November 2012. Israel says its aim is to quash Hamas’ militant capabilities and to quell rocket fire.

Israeli leaders warned a ground invasion could be imminent.

“Despite the fact it will be hard, complicated and costly, we will have to take over Gaza temporarily, for a few weeks, to cut off the strengthening of this terror army,” Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s intelligence minister, told Israel Radio. “If you ask my humble opinion, a significant operation like this is approaching.”

The government has authorized the army to activate up to 40,000 reservists for a ground operation. An Israeli government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was discussing Israeli tactical strategy, said the reservists would be sent to the West Bank to allow active duty troops to amass near the Gaza border.

Since the offensive began Tuesday, Israel has attacked at least 560 sites in Gaza, killing at least 41 people, the army said. Militants have fired more than 160 rockets at Israel.

“We will not stop. They’ll first receive a hard blow from air and sea, and if a ground invasion is needed, there will be a ground invasion,” said Israel’s Minister of Internal Security, Yitzhak Aharonovitz.

Gaza health official Ashraf al-Qidra said at least 14 people were killed in Wednesday’s airstrikes, including two militants. An 80-year-old woman was among the dead. In all, 35 Palestinians have been killed.

Israel’s army said its targets included a senior member of the Islamic Jihad militant group. Islamic Jihad confirmed one of its members was killed, along with his mother and four siblings.

Hamas official Musheer al-Masri said Israel had “crossed all the red lines” and warned that Hamas would strike back fiercely. “What the resistance showed today is only part of what it is capable of,” he said.

Israel and Hamas are bitter enemies and have fought numerous times over the years. But until recently they had been observing a truce that ended the previous hostilities in 2012.

About 2,000 people attended a funeral for eight Palestinians, including at least one militant, four adults and two children, who were killed Tuesday.

In a statement, the Egyptian president’s office said President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi received a call from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday evening to review the latest developments.

Abbas, who has minimal influence in Gaza, has appealed to Israel to halt its offensive. “Egypt has made extensive contacts with all active and concerned parties to spare the Palestinian people the scourge of Israeli military operations,” el-Sissi’s office said. It did not elaborate.

It was not clear whether the contacts included formal efforts to reach a cease-fire, or whether Egypt was speaking to Hamas. The new Egyptian government has poor relations with Hamas.

Tensions have been rising since the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank on June 12. Israel accused Hamas of being behind the abductions, although it provided no proof.

Israel then launched a crackdown on the group’s members in the West Bank and arrested hundreds of people. Hamas, which controls Gaza, responded by stepping up rocket fire.

The situation deteriorated last week after the bodies of the three were found, followed a day later by the abduction of Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem – who was later found burned to death in what Palestinians believe was a revenge attack. Six Jewish Israelis were arrested in the killing.

Hamas is far weaker than the last round of fighting with Israel in 2012.

At the time, Egypt was governed by the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas’ close ally. Following its ouster in 2013, Egypt’s new government became hostile to Hamas and closed a network of smuggling tunnels used by the group as an economic lifeline, and as a way to smuggle in rockets.

An Israeli government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was discussing Israeli tactical strategy, said Israel could make more significant achievements against Hamas now than in previous rounds of fighting.

“Things are different now,” the official said. “Their ability to rebuild their arsenal is far more limited.”

Israel hits key Hamas targets in Gaza offensive

KDWN

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel stepped up its offensive on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on Wednesday, pummeling scores of targets and killing at least 14 people as Israeli leaders signaled a weeks-long ground invasion could be quickly approaching.

The military said it struck about 200 Hamas targets on the second day of its offensive, which it says is needed to end incessant rocket attacks out of Gaza. Militants, however, continued to fire rocket salvos deep into Israeli territory, and Israel mobilized thousands of forces along the Gaza border ahead of a possible ground operation.

“The army is ready for all possibilities,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after holding a meeting of his Security Cabinet. “Hamas will pay a heavy price for firing toward Israeli citizens. The security of Israel’s citizens comes first. The operation will expand and continue until the fire toward our towns stops and quiet returns.”

The fighting stepped up as Egypt, which often serves as a mediator between Israel and the Palestinians, said it was in contact with both sides to end the violence. It was the first indication since the offensive was launched on Tuesday that cease-fire efforts might be under way.

The offensive has set off the heaviest fighting between Israel and the Islamic militant group Hamas since an eight-day battle in November 2012. Israel says its aim is to quash Hamas’ militant capabilities and to quell rocket fire.

Israeli leaders warned a ground invasion could be imminent.

“Despite the fact it will be hard, complicated and costly, we will have to take over Gaza temporarily, for a few weeks, to cut off the strengthening of this terror army,” Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s intelligence minister, told Israel Radio. “If you ask my humble opinion, a significant operation like this is approaching.”

The government has authorized the army to activate up to 40,000 reservists for a ground operation. An Israeli government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was discussing Israeli tactical strategy, said the reservists would be sent to the West Bank to allow active duty troops to amass near the Gaza border.

Since the offensive began Tuesday, Israel has attacked at least 560 sites in Gaza, killing at least 41 people, the army said. Militants have fired more than 160 rockets at Israel.

“We will not stop. They’ll first receive a hard blow from air and sea, and if a ground invasion is needed, there will be a ground invasion,” said Israel’s Minister of Internal Security, Yitzhak Aharonovitz.

Gaza health official Ashraf al-Qidra said at least 14 people were killed in Wednesday’s airstrikes, including two militants. An 80-year-old woman was among the dead. In all, 35 Palestinians have been killed.

Israel’s army said its targets included a senior member of the Islamic Jihad militant group. Islamic Jihad confirmed one of its members was killed, along with his mother and four siblings.

Hamas official Musheer al-Masri said Israel had “crossed all the red lines” and warned that Hamas would strike back fiercely. “What the resistance showed today is only part of what it is capable of,” he said.

Israel and Hamas are bitter enemies and have fought numerous times over the years. But until recently they had been observing a truce that ended the previous hostilities in 2012.

About 2,000 people attended a funeral for eight Palestinians, including at least one militant, four adults and two children, who were killed Tuesday.

In a statement, the Egyptian president’s office said President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi received a call from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday evening to review the latest developments.

Abbas, who has minimal influence in Gaza, has appealed to Israel to halt its offensive. “Egypt has made extensive contacts with all active and concerned parties to spare the Palestinian people the scourge of Israeli military operations,” el-Sissi’s office said. It did not elaborate.

It was not clear whether the contacts included formal efforts to reach a cease-fire, or whether Egypt was speaking to Hamas. The new Egyptian government has poor relations with Hamas.

Tensions have been rising since the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank on June 12. Israel accused Hamas of being behind the abductions, although it provided no proof.

Israel then launched a crackdown on the group’s members in the West Bank and arrested hundreds of people. Hamas, which controls Gaza, responded by stepping up rocket fire.

The situation deteriorated last week after the bodies of the three were found, followed a day later by the abduction of Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem – who was later found burned to death in what Palestinians believe was a revenge attack. Six Jewish Israelis were arrested in the killing.

Hamas is far weaker than the last round of fighting with Israel in 2012.

At the time, Egypt was governed by the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas’ close ally. Following its ouster in 2013, Egypt’s new government became hostile to Hamas and closed a network of smuggling tunnels used by the group as an economic lifeline, and as a way to smuggle in rockets.

An Israeli government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was discussing Israeli tactical strategy, said Israel could make more significant achievements against Hamas now than in previous rounds of fighting.

“Things are different now,” the official said. “Their ability to rebuild their arsenal is far more limited.”

Israel hits key Hamas targets in Gaza offensive

KDWN

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel stepped up its offensive on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on Wednesday, pummeling scores of targets and killing at least 14 people as Israeli leaders signaled a weeks-long ground invasion could be quickly approaching.

The military said it struck about 200 Hamas targets on the second day of its offensive, which it says is needed to end incessant rocket attacks out of Gaza. Militants, however, continued to fire rocket salvos deep into Israeli territory, and Israel mobilized thousands of forces along the Gaza border ahead of a possible ground operation.

“The army is ready for all possibilities,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after holding a meeting of his Security Cabinet. “Hamas will pay a heavy price for firing toward Israeli citizens. The security of Israel’s citizens comes first. The operation will expand and continue until the fire toward our towns stops and quiet returns.”

The fighting stepped up as Egypt, which often serves as a mediator between Israel and the Palestinians, said it was in contact with both sides to end the violence. It was the first indication since the offensive was launched on Tuesday that cease-fire efforts might be under way.

The offensive has set off the heaviest fighting between Israel and the Islamic militant group Hamas since an eight-day battle in November 2012. Israel says its aim is to quash Hamas’ militant capabilities and to quell rocket fire.

Israeli leaders warned a ground invasion could be imminent.

“Despite the fact it will be hard, complicated and costly, we will have to take over Gaza temporarily, for a few weeks, to cut off the strengthening of this terror army,” Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s intelligence minister, told Israel Radio. “If you ask my humble opinion, a significant operation like this is approaching.”

The government has authorized the army to activate up to 40,000 reservists for a ground operation. An Israeli government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was discussing Israeli tactical strategy, said the reservists would be sent to the West Bank to allow active duty troops to amass near the Gaza border.

Since the offensive began Tuesday, Israel has attacked at least 560 sites in Gaza, killing at least 41 people, the army said. Militants have fired more than 160 rockets at Israel.

“We will not stop. They’ll first receive a hard blow from air and sea, and if a ground invasion is needed, there will be a ground invasion,” said Israel’s Minister of Internal Security, Yitzhak Aharonovitz.

Gaza health official Ashraf al-Qidra said at least 14 people were killed in Wednesday’s airstrikes, including two militants. An 80-year-old woman was among the dead. In all, 35 Palestinians have been killed.

Israel’s army said its targets included a senior member of the Islamic Jihad militant group. Islamic Jihad confirmed one of its members was killed, along with his mother and four siblings.

Hamas official Musheer al-Masri said Israel had “crossed all the red lines” and warned that Hamas would strike back fiercely. “What the resistance showed today is only part of what it is capable of,” he said.

Israel and Hamas are bitter enemies and have fought numerous times over the years. But until recently they had been observing a truce that ended the previous hostilities in 2012.

About 2,000 people attended a funeral for eight Palestinians, including at least one militant, four adults and two children, who were killed Tuesday.

In a statement, the Egyptian president’s office said President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi received a call from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday evening to review the latest developments.

Abbas, who has minimal influence in Gaza, has appealed to Israel to halt its offensive. “Egypt has made extensive contacts with all active and concerned parties to spare the Palestinian people the scourge of Israeli military operations,” el-Sissi’s office said. It did not elaborate.

It was not clear whether the contacts included formal efforts to reach a cease-fire, or whether Egypt was speaking to Hamas. The new Egyptian government has poor relations with Hamas.

Tensions have been rising since the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank on June 12. Israel accused Hamas of being behind the abductions, although it provided no proof.

Israel then launched a crackdown on the group’s members in the West Bank and arrested hundreds of people. Hamas, which controls Gaza, responded by stepping up rocket fire.

The situation deteriorated last week after the bodies of the three were found, followed a day later by the abduction of Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem – who was later found burned to death in what Palestinians believe was a revenge attack. Six Jewish Israelis were arrested in the killing.

Hamas is far weaker than the last round of fighting with Israel in 2012.

At the time, Egypt was governed by the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas’ close ally. Following its ouster in 2013, Egypt’s new government became hostile to Hamas and closed a network of smuggling tunnels used by the group as an economic lifeline, and as a way to smuggle in rockets.

An Israeli government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was discussing Israeli tactical strategy, said Israel could make more significant achievements against Hamas now than in previous rounds of fighting.

“Things are different now,” the official said. “Their ability to rebuild their arsenal is far more limited.”

Israel hits key Hamas targets in Gaza offensive

KDWN

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel stepped up its offensive on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on Wednesday, pummeling scores of targets and killing at least 14 people as Israeli leaders signaled a weeks-long ground invasion could be quickly approaching.

The military said it struck about 200 Hamas targets on the second day of its offensive, which it says is needed to end incessant rocket attacks out of Gaza. Militants, however, continued to fire rocket salvos deep into Israeli territory, and Israel mobilized thousands of forces along the Gaza border ahead of a possible ground operation.

“The army is ready for all possibilities,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after holding a meeting of his Security Cabinet. “Hamas will pay a heavy price for firing toward Israeli citizens. The security of Israel’s citizens comes first. The operation will expand and continue until the fire toward our towns stops and quiet returns.”

The fighting stepped up as Egypt, which often serves as a mediator between Israel and the Palestinians, said it was in contact with both sides to end the violence. It was the first indication since the offensive was launched on Tuesday that cease-fire efforts might be under way.

The offensive has set off the heaviest fighting between Israel and the Islamic militant group Hamas since an eight-day battle in November 2012. Israel says its aim is to quash Hamas’ militant capabilities and to quell rocket fire.

Israeli leaders warned a ground invasion could be imminent.

“Despite the fact it will be hard, complicated and costly, we will have to take over Gaza temporarily, for a few weeks, to cut off the strengthening of this terror army,” Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s intelligence minister, told Israel Radio. “If you ask my humble opinion, a significant operation like this is approaching.”

The government has authorized the army to activate up to 40,000 reservists for a ground operation. An Israeli government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was discussing Israeli tactical strategy, said the reservists would be sent to the West Bank to allow active duty troops to amass near the Gaza border.

Since the offensive began Tuesday, Israel has attacked at least 560 sites in Gaza, killing at least 41 people, the army said. Militants have fired more than 160 rockets at Israel.

“We will not stop. They’ll first receive a hard blow from air and sea, and if a ground invasion is needed, there will be a ground invasion,” said Israel’s Minister of Internal Security, Yitzhak Aharonovitz.

Gaza health official Ashraf al-Qidra said at least 14 people were killed in Wednesday’s airstrikes, including two militants. An 80-year-old woman was among the dead. In all, 35 Palestinians have been killed.

Israel’s army said its targets included a senior member of the Islamic Jihad militant group. Islamic Jihad confirmed one of its members was killed, along with his mother and four siblings.

Hamas official Musheer al-Masri said Israel had “crossed all the red lines” and warned that Hamas would strike back fiercely. “What the resistance showed today is only part of what it is capable of,” he said.

Israel and Hamas are bitter enemies and have fought numerous times over the years. But until recently they had been observing a truce that ended the previous hostilities in 2012.

About 2,000 people attended a funeral for eight Palestinians, including at least one militant, four adults and two children, who were killed Tuesday.

In a statement, the Egyptian president’s office said President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi received a call from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday evening to review the latest developments.

Abbas, who has minimal influence in Gaza, has appealed to Israel to halt its offensive. “Egypt has made extensive contacts with all active and concerned parties to spare the Palestinian people the scourge of Israeli military operations,” el-Sissi’s office said. It did not elaborate.

It was not clear whether the contacts included formal efforts to reach a cease-fire, or whether Egypt was speaking to Hamas. The new Egyptian government has poor relations with Hamas.

Tensions have been rising since the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank on June 12. Israel accused Hamas of being behind the abductions, although it provided no proof.

Israel then launched a crackdown on the group’s members in the West Bank and arrested hundreds of people. Hamas, which controls Gaza, responded by stepping up rocket fire.

The situation deteriorated last week after the bodies of the three were found, followed a day later by the abduction of Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem – who was later found burned to death in what Palestinians believe was a revenge attack. Six Jewish Israelis were arrested in the killing.

Hamas is far weaker than the last round of fighting with Israel in 2012.

At the time, Egypt was governed by the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas’ close ally. Following its ouster in 2013, Egypt’s new government became hostile to Hamas and closed a network of smuggling tunnels used by the group as an economic lifeline, and as a way to smuggle in rockets.

An Israeli government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was discussing Israeli tactical strategy, said Israel could make more significant achievements against Hamas now than in previous rounds of fighting.

“Things are different now,” the official said. “Their ability to rebuild their arsenal is far more limited.”

Israel hits key Hamas targets in Gaza offensive

KDWN

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel stepped up its offensive on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on Wednesday, pummeling scores of targets and killing at least 14 people as Israeli leaders signaled a weeks-long ground invasion could be quickly approaching.

The military said it struck about 200 Hamas targets on the second day of its offensive, which it says is needed to end incessant rocket attacks out of Gaza. Militants, however, continued to fire rocket salvos deep into Israeli territory, and Israel mobilized thousands of forces along the Gaza border ahead of a possible ground operation.

“The army is ready for all possibilities,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after holding a meeting of his Security Cabinet. “Hamas will pay a heavy price for firing toward Israeli citizens. The security of Israel’s citizens comes first. The operation will expand and continue until the fire toward our towns stops and quiet returns.”

The fighting stepped up as Egypt, which often serves as a mediator between Israel and the Palestinians, said it was in contact with both sides to end the violence. It was the first indication since the offensive was launched on Tuesday that cease-fire efforts might be under way.

The offensive has set off the heaviest fighting between Israel and the Islamic militant group Hamas since an eight-day battle in November 2012. Israel says its aim is to quash Hamas’ militant capabilities and to quell rocket fire.

Israeli leaders warned a ground invasion could be imminent.

“Despite the fact it will be hard, complicated and costly, we will have to take over Gaza temporarily, for a few weeks, to cut off the strengthening of this terror army,” Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s intelligence minister, told Israel Radio. “If you ask my humble opinion, a significant operation like this is approaching.”

The government has authorized the army to activate up to 40,000 reservists for a ground operation. An Israeli government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was discussing Israeli tactical strategy, said the reservists would be sent to the West Bank to allow active duty troops to amass near the Gaza border.

Since the offensive began Tuesday, Israel has attacked at least 560 sites in Gaza, killing at least 41 people, the army said. Militants have fired more than 160 rockets at Israel.

“We will not stop. They’ll first receive a hard blow from air and sea, and if a ground invasion is needed, there will be a ground invasion,” said Israel’s Minister of Internal Security, Yitzhak Aharonovitz.

Gaza health official Ashraf al-Qidra said at least 14 people were killed in Wednesday’s airstrikes, including two militants. An 80-year-old woman was among the dead. In all, 35 Palestinians have been killed.

Israel’s army said its targets included a senior member of the Islamic Jihad militant group. Islamic Jihad confirmed one of its members was killed, along with his mother and four siblings.

Hamas official Musheer al-Masri said Israel had “crossed all the red lines” and warned that Hamas would strike back fiercely. “What the resistance showed today is only part of what it is capable of,” he said.

Israel and Hamas are bitter enemies and have fought numerous times over the years. But until recently they had been observing a truce that ended the previous hostilities in 2012.

About 2,000 people attended a funeral for eight Palestinians, including at least one militant, four adults and two children, who were killed Tuesday.

In a statement, the Egyptian president’s office said President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi received a call from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday evening to review the latest developments.

Abbas, who has minimal influence in Gaza, has appealed to Israel to halt its offensive. “Egypt has made extensive contacts with all active and concerned parties to spare the Palestinian people the scourge of Israeli military operations,” el-Sissi’s office said. It did not elaborate.

It was not clear whether the contacts included formal efforts to reach a cease-fire, or whether Egypt was speaking to Hamas. The new Egyptian government has poor relations with Hamas.

Tensions have been rising since the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank on June 12. Israel accused Hamas of being behind the abductions, although it provided no proof.

Israel then launched a crackdown on the group’s members in the West Bank and arrested hundreds of people. Hamas, which controls Gaza, responded by stepping up rocket fire.

The situation deteriorated last week after the bodies of the three were found, followed a day later by the abduction of Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem – who was later found burned to death in what Palestinians believe was a revenge attack. Six Jewish Israelis were arrested in the killing.

Hamas is far weaker than the last round of fighting with Israel in 2012.

At the time, Egypt was governed by the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas’ close ally. Following its ouster in 2013, Egypt’s new government became hostile to Hamas and closed a network of smuggling tunnels used by the group as an economic lifeline, and as a way to smuggle in rockets.

An Israeli government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was discussing Israeli tactical strategy, said Israel could make more significant achievements against Hamas now than in previous rounds of fighting.

“Things are different now,” the official said. “Their ability to rebuild their arsenal is far more limited.”

Israel hits key Hamas targets in Gaza offensive

KDWN

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli army on Wednesday intensified its offensive on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, striking Hamas sites and killing at least 14 people on the second day of a military operation it says is aimed at quelling rocket fire against Israel.

The offensive has set off the heaviest fighting between Israel and the Islamic militant group Hamas since an eight-day battle in November 2012. Militants have unleashed rocket salvos deeper into Israeli territory than before, and Israel mobilized thousands of forces along the Gaza border for a possible ground invasion into the Palestinian territory.

Israel’s defense minister warned the offensive would be long-term.

“The operation against Hamas will expand in the coming days, and the price the organization will pay will be very high,” Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said.

Since the offensive began Tuesday, Israel has attacked more than 400 sites in Gaza, killing at least 41 people. The strikes came after militants fired more than 160 rockets at Israel, including one that reached the northern Israeli city of Hadera for the first time. The city is about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Gaza.

The army said it attacked more than 160 sites in Gaza early Wednesday, including 118 concealed rockets launching sites, six Hamas compounds – including naval police and national security compounds – 10 militant command centers, weapons storage facilities and 10 tunnels used for militant activity and to ferry supplies in from Egypt. The border between Gaza and Egypt has effectively been closed for months.

Gaza health official Ashraf Al-Kedra said Wednesday’s airstrikes killed one militant in south Gaza, an 80-year-old woman, the son, wife and neighbor of a Hamas militant, and three others whose affiliation was not immediately known.

Israel’s army said it targeted a militant with the Islamic Jihad militant group who had launched rockets toward Israel. Separately, Islamic Jihad claimed that one of its militants was killed with his mother and four siblings, but Al-Kedra said they were all civilians.

Israel and Hamas are bitter enemies and have fought numerous times over the years. But until recently they had been observing a truce that ended the previous hostilities in 2012.

Tensions have been rising since the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank on June 12. Israel accused Hamas of being behind the abductions, although it provided no proof.

Israel then launched a crackdown on the group’s members in the West Bank and arrested hundreds of people. Hamas, which controls Gaza, responded by stepping up rocket fire.

The situation deteriorated last week after the bodies of the three were found, followed a day later by the abduction of Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem – who was later found burned to death in what Palestinians believe was a revenge attack. Six Jewish Israelis were arrested in the killing.

It was a sharp contrast to the large number that hit Israeli cities the night before, setting off air raid sirens in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and other areas of the country.

In amateur video obtained by The Associated Press, guests at an outdoor wedding in the city of Holon, near Tel Aviv, ran screaming for cover as a rocket was intercepted in the sky, blowing up. The bride and groom rushed down the aisle as a second rocket whizzed above.

By early Wednesday, air raid sirens sounded in Tel Aviv and Israel’s south, and the army said two rockets were apparently intercepted above the central Israeli city by an anti-missile battery. In total, at least seven rockets were fired toward Israel on Wednesday, and the “Iron Dome” anti-missile system intercepted about half of them mid-air, the army said. There were no reported injuries.

Lerner, the army spokesman, told reporters that the military’s aim was to take a “substantial toll” on Hamas and to deplete its rocket capabilities. He said the army would gradually ramp up its strikes on Gaza.

“The organization is going to pay for its aggression. It is literally holding us hostage with its rockets,” Lerner said. “The country is not willing for this situation to continue.”

About 2,000 people attended a funeral for eight Palestinians, including at least one militant, four adults and two children, who were killed Tuesday.

In the attack, an airstrike flattened the home of a Hamas militant in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis. Israel’s military said it had called the home shortly before the airstrike to warn civilians to leave.

A security official said the army has been telephoning homes, or firing small projectiles dubbed “knock on the roof,” to warn civilians to leave buildings before demolishing homes. The official said the army also warns militants about such attacks if civilians are with them.

Hamas is far weaker than the last round of fighting with Israel in 2012.

At the time, Egypt was governed by the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas’ close ally. Following its ouster in 2013, Egypt’s new government became hostile to Hamas and closed a network of smuggling tunnels used by the group as an economic lifeline, and as a way to smuggle in rockets.

An Israeli government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was discussing Israeli tactical strategy, said Israel could make more significant achievements against Hamas now than in previous rounds of fighting.

“Things are different now,” the official said. “Their ability to rebuild their arsenal is far more limited.”

Israel hits key Hamas targets in Gaza offensive

KDWN

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli army on Wednesday intensified its offensive on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, striking Hamas sites and killing at least 8 people on the second day of a military operation it says is aimed at quenching rocket fire against Israel.

The offensive has set off the heaviest fighting between Israel and the Islamic militant group Hamas since an eight-day battle in November 2012. Militants unleashed rocket salvos deep into Israeli territory, and Israel mobilized thousands of forces along the Gaza border for a possible ground invasion into the Palestinian territory.

Since the offensive began Tuesday, Israel has attacked more than 400 sites in Gaza, killing at least 32 people. The strikes from air and sea came after militants fired more than 160 rockets at Israel, including one that reached the northern Israeli city of Hadera for the first time. The city is about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Gaza.

The army said it attacked more than 160 sites in Gaza early Wednesday, including 118 concealed rockets launching sites, six Hamas compounds – including naval police and national security compounds – 10 militant command centers, weapons storage facilities and 10 tunnels used for militant activity and to ferry supplies in from Egypt. The border between Gaza and Egypt has effectively been closed for months.

Gaza health official Ashraf Al-Kedra said Wednesday’s airstrikes killed one militant in south Gaza, as well as an Islamic Jihad operative, his mother, and four siblings in northern Gaza. Another man was killed on a motorcycle, but his identity was not immediately known.

Only four rockets were fired from Gaza toward Israel overnight, the army said, a significant decline from the large number that hit Israeli cities the night before, setting off air raid sirens in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and other areas of the country.

By early Wednesday, air raid sirens sounded in Tel Aviv and Israel’s south early Wednesday, and the army said two rockets were apparently intercepted above the central Israeli city by an anti-missile battery.

Lerner, the army spokesman, told reporters that the military’s aim was to take a “substantial toll” on Hamas and to deplete its rocket capabilities. He said the army would gradually ramp up its strikes on Gaza.

“The organization is going to pay for its aggression. It is literally holding us hostage with its rockets,” Lerner said. “The country is not willing for this situation to continue.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called from the West Bank on the international community and the United Nations to “provide international protection for our people.” He said in a televised statement late Tuesday that Hamas leaders in Gaza want to restore calm.

“I have been in contact with the regional and international parties in the last few days, particularly Hamas leaders in Gaza, and everyone I’ve talked to expressed his willingness to restore the truce and stop the escalation,” Abbas said. He called the Israeli offensive on Gaza an “orchestrated and brutal aggression.”

Israel hits key Hamas targets in Gaza offensive

KDWN

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli army on Wednesday intensified its offensive on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, striking Hamas sites and killing at least 8 people on the second day of a military operation it says is aimed at quenching rocket fire against Israel.

The offensive has set off the heaviest fighting between Israel and the Islamic militant group Hamas since an eight-day battle in November 2012. Militants unleashed rocket salvos deep into Israeli territory, and Israel mobilized thousands of forces along the Gaza border for a possible ground invasion into the Palestinian territory.

Since the offensive began Tuesday, Israel has attacked more than 400 sites in Gaza, killing at least 32 people. The strikes from air and sea came after militants fired more than 160 rockets at Israel, including one that reached the northern Israeli city of Hadera for the first time. The city is about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Gaza.

The army said it attacked more than 160 sites in Gaza early Wednesday, including 118 concealed rockets launching sites, six Hamas compounds – including naval police and national security compounds – 10 militant command centers, weapons storage facilities and 10 tunnels used for militant activity and to ferry supplies in from Egypt. The border between Gaza and Egypt has effectively been closed for months.

Gaza health official Ashraf Al-Kedra said Wednesday’s airstrikes killed one militant in south Gaza, as well as an Islamic Jihad operative, his mother, and four siblings in northern Gaza. Another man was killed on a motorcycle, but his identity was not immediately known.

Only four rockets were fired from Gaza toward Israel overnight, the army said, a significant decline from the large number that hit Israeli cities the night before, setting off air raid sirens in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and other areas of the country.

By early Wednesday, air raid sirens sounded in Tel Aviv and Israel’s south early Wednesday, and the army said two rockets were apparently intercepted above the central Israeli city by an anti-missile battery.

Lerner, the army spokesman, told reporters that the military’s aim was to take a “substantial toll” on Hamas and to deplete its rocket capabilities. He said the army would gradually ramp up its strikes on Gaza.

“The organization is going to pay for its aggression. It is literally holding us hostage with its rockets,” Lerner said. “The country is not willing for this situation to continue.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called from the West Bank on the international community and the United Nations to “provide international protection for our people.” He said in a televised statement late Tuesday that Hamas leaders in Gaza want to restore calm.

“I have been in contact with the regional and international parties in the last few days, particularly Hamas leaders in Gaza, and everyone I’ve talked to expressed his willingness to restore the truce and stop the escalation,” Abbas said. He called the Israeli offensive on Gaza an “orchestrated and brutal aggression.”

Israel hits key Hamas targets in Gaza offensive

KDWN

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli army on Wednesday intensified its offensive on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, striking Hamas sites and killing at least 8 people on the second day of a military operation it says is aimed at quenching rocket fire against Israel.

The offensive has set off the heaviest fighting between Israel and the Islamic militant group Hamas since an eight-day battle in November 2012. Militants unleashed rocket salvos deep into Israeli territory, and Israel mobilized thousands of forces along the Gaza border for a possible ground invasion into the Palestinian territory.

Since the offensive began Tuesday, Israel has attacked more than 400 sites in Gaza, killing at least 32 people. The strikes from air and sea came after militants fired more than 160 rockets at Israel, including one that reached the northern Israeli city of Hadera for the first time. The city is about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Gaza.

The army said it attacked more than 160 sites in Gaza early Wednesday, including 118 concealed rockets launching sites, six Hamas compounds – including naval police and national security compounds – 10 militant command centers, weapons storage facilities and 10 tunnels used for militant activity and to ferry supplies in from Egypt. The border between Gaza and Egypt has effectively been closed for months.

Gaza health official Ashraf Al-Kedra said Wednesday’s airstrikes killed one militant in south Gaza, as well as an Islamic Jihad operative, his mother, and four siblings in northern Gaza. Another man was killed on a motorcycle, but his identity was not immediately known.

Only four rockets were fired from Gaza toward Israel overnight, the army said, a significant decline from the large number that hit Israeli cities the night before, setting off air raid sirens in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and other areas of the country.

By early Wednesday, air raid sirens sounded in Tel Aviv and Israel’s south early Wednesday, and the army said two rockets were apparently intercepted above the central Israeli city by an anti-missile battery.

Lerner, the army spokesman, told reporters that the military’s aim was to take a “substantial toll” on Hamas and to deplete its rocket capabilities. He said the army would gradually ramp up its strikes on Gaza.

“The organization is going to pay for its aggression. It is literally holding us hostage with its rockets,” Lerner said. “The country is not willing for this situation to continue.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called from the West Bank on the international community and the United Nations to “provide international protection for our people.” He said in a televised statement late Tuesday that Hamas leaders in Gaza want to restore calm.

“I have been in contact with the regional and international parties in the last few days, particularly Hamas leaders in Gaza, and everyone I’ve talked to expressed his willingness to restore the truce and stop the escalation,” Abbas said. He called the Israeli offensive on Gaza an “orchestrated and brutal aggression.”

Israel hits key Hamas targets in Gaza offensive

KDWN

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli army on Wednesday intensified its offensive on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, striking Hamas sites and killing at least 8 people on the second day of a military operation it says is aimed at quenching rocket fire against Israel.

The offensive has set off the heaviest fighting between Israel and the Islamic militant group Hamas since an eight-day battle in November 2012. Militants unleashed rocket salvos deep into Israeli territory, and Israel mobilized thousands of forces along the Gaza border for a possible ground invasion into the Palestinian territory.

Since the offensive began Tuesday, Israel has attacked more than 400 sites in Gaza, killing at least 32 people. The strikes from air and sea came after militants fired more than 160 rockets at Israel, including one that reached the northern Israeli city of Hadera for the first time. The city is about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Gaza.

The army said it attacked more than 160 sites in Gaza early Wednesday, including 118 concealed rockets launching sites, six Hamas compounds – including naval police and national security compounds – 10 militant command centers, weapons storage facilities and 10 tunnels used for militant activity and to ferry supplies in from Egypt. The border between Gaza and Egypt has effectively been closed for months.

Gaza health official Ashraf Al-Kedra said Wednesday’s airstrikes killed one militant in south Gaza, as well as an Islamic Jihad operative, his mother, and four siblings in northern Gaza. Another man was killed on a motorcycle, but his identity was not immediately known.

Only four rockets were fired from Gaza toward Israel overnight, the army said, a significant decline from the large number that hit Israeli cities the night before, setting off air raid sirens in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and other areas of the country.

By early Wednesday, air raid sirens sounded in Tel Aviv and Israel’s south early Wednesday, and the army said two rockets were apparently intercepted above the central Israeli city by an anti-missile battery.

Lerner, the army spokesman, told reporters that the military’s aim was to take a “substantial toll” on Hamas and to deplete its rocket capabilities. He said the army would gradually ramp up its strikes on Gaza.

“The organization is going to pay for its aggression. It is literally holding us hostage with its rockets,” Lerner said. “The country is not willing for this situation to continue.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called from the West Bank on the international community and the United Nations to “provide international protection for our people.” He said in a televised statement late Tuesday that Hamas leaders in Gaza want to restore calm.

“I have been in contact with the regional and international parties in the last few days, particularly Hamas leaders in Gaza, and everyone I’ve talked to expressed his willingness to restore the truce and stop the escalation,” Abbas said. He called the Israeli offensive on Gaza an “orchestrated and brutal aggression.”

Israel hits key Hamas targets in Gaza offensive

KDWN

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli army says it has intensified its offensive on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, striking key Hamas sites in the second day of an operation aimed at quelling rocket fire against Israel.

Army spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner says warplanes early Wednesday attacked more than 130 sites including Hamas command centers and rocket launchers.

Lerner says at least four rockets were fired at Israel overnight, a decline from the large barrage the evening before. Air raid sirens wailed in Tel Aviv and southern Israel early Wednesday.

Gaza health official Ashraf Al-Kedra says overnight airstrikes killed one militant in south Gaza and an Islamic Jihad operative and five relatives in northern Gaza.

Israel is mobilizing troops for a possible ground invasion of the Palestinian territory to stop the rocket fire.

Israel hits key Hamas targets in Gaza offensive

KDWN

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli army says it has intensified its offensive on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, striking key Hamas sites in the second day of an operation aimed at quelling rocket fire against Israel.

Army spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner says warplanes early Wednesday attacked more than 130 sites including Hamas command centers and rocket launchers.

Lerner says at least four rockets were fired at Israel overnight, a decline from the large barrage the evening before. Air raid sirens wailed in Tel Aviv and southern Israel early Wednesday.

Gaza health official Ashraf Al-Kedra says overnight airstrikes killed one militant in south Gaza and an Islamic Jihad operative and five relatives in northern Gaza.

Israel is mobilizing troops for a possible ground invasion of the Palestinian territory to stop the rocket fire.