Israel Bombards Gaza As Hamas Rocket Fire Reaches Tel Aviv

Posted November 17th, 2012 at 7:00 pm (UTC-5)
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Israeli warplanes blasted Hamas government buildings in the Gaza Strip Saturday in response to continuing Palestinian rocket fire. Israeli air defenses also shot down a Palestinian rocket fired at Tel Aviv, as Israel's Cabinet authorized the call up of 75,000 reservists for a possible ground invasion.

Television footage showed a mound of rubble after Israeli strikes leveled the Gaza office of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and his Cabinet. Haniyeh was not there at the time. Israeli missiles also hit rocket launching sites and weapons smuggling tunnels.

As a fourth day of fighting raged, U.S. President Barack Obama continued to press Egypt, Turkey and other nations capable of influencing Hamas to help bring about a cease-fire.

Speaking to reporters accompanying the president to Southeast Asia, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes repeated the U.S. position that Israel has a right to defend itself against rocket fire from Gaza. He said the president has spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by phone as well as Egyptian President Mohamad Morsi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Late Saturday, foreign ministers from the Cairo-based Arab League were meeting in emergency session to discuss an Arab response to the fighting. Separately, Egypt's President Morsi hosted meetings Saturday with Turkish and Qatari leaders to coordinate the delivery of emergency aid to Gaza.

More than 100 Hamas rockets rained down on Israel Saturday, reaching far north as Tel Aviv, where sirens wailed early in the day.

Israel's military says its new “Iron Dome” missile defense system shot down an incoming rocket bound for Tel Aviv — one of several Hamas has fired at Israel's commercial center since fighting erupted Wednesday.

Israel says “Iron Dome” has intercepted nearly 250 Hamas rockets fired this week..

Palestinian officials say at least 42 people have died in Gaza, including militants and civilians, since the Israelis began their air strikes Wednesday. Hamas rockets have killed three Israeli civilians. About 10 Israelis including some soldiers were injured by rocket fire on Saturday.