Israel, Hamas Exchange Fire

Posted November 17th, 2012 at 10:35 am (UTC-5)
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Israel and Hamas continued exchanging fierce attacks Saturday as Israeli forces massed along the Gaza border in preparation for a possible ground invasion.

Israel carried out more than 200 air strikes on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip Saturday, destroying the Hamas Cabinet headquarters, while Palestinian rocket fire continued over southern Israel.

Israel's military has shut down main roads around Gaza, a sign it could be poised to launch the ground offensive. Israel's Cabinet has authorized the mobilization of up to 75,000 reservists. Tanks and other armored vehicles are also positioned along the border.

Hamas has fired hundreds of rockets since the conflict began a few days ago. Israeli officials say their new missile defense system has intercepted most of them, although one rocket landed Friday in a field outside Jerusalem. Hamas claimed responsibility for the unprecedented attack on the holy city.

Hamas has also fired rockets toward Tel Aviv, Israel's commercial center.

There has been no serious talk of a cease-fire.

Palestinian officials say nearly 40 people have died in Gaza since the Israelis began their airstrikes earlier in the week. Hamas rockets have killed three Israeli civilians.

Tunisia's foreign minister visited the Gaza Strip Saturday. Rafik Abdesslem is the second high-profile visitor to Gaza since the latest wave of violence. Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil visited on Friday.

Mr. Kandil said Egypt “will make sacrifices and every effort to achieve a truce.” In Cairo, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi called the Israeli assault a “blatant aggression against humanity.”

U.S. President Barack Obama telephoned the Egyptian president Friday to discuss the situation.

Mr. Obama also spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who thanked the U.S. for helping Israel develop their missile defense system.

An Israeli missile Wednesday killed the top military commander of Hamas in Gaza. Israel says the killing was in direct response to the almost daily rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza.

Hamas vowed revenge and warned that Israel has opened up what it calls “the gates of hell.”