Israel Prepared To Widen Gaza Offensive

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 18 2012 9:31 AM

Israel Prepared To Widen Gaza Offensive as Truce Remains Elusive

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A Palestinian rescue worker inspects damaged buildings following Israeli air strikes on the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on Sunday

Photo by SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images

As Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip from air and sea continued for a fifth day Sunday, it doesn’t seem the two sides are ready to put down their weapons anytime in the near future. Israel hit two buildings used by journalists as media centers in Gaza, wounding six journalists and damaging the offices of Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV and Britain’s Sky News. An employee for Lebanon’s al-Quds TV lost a leg in the attack, reports Reuters. Israel insists the strikes weren’t targeting journalists but rather a “transmission antenna used by Hamas to carry out terror activity.” Palestinian fire resumed Sunday morning with reportedly two missiles getting close to hitting Tel Aviv but they were both shot down by Israel’s Iron Dome shield.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet that the strikes are “exacting a heavy price for Hamas and the terrorist organizations,” adding that Israel’s forces “are prepared for a significant expansion of the operation.” An Israeli military spokeswoman said that while the prospect of a ground offensive remains “on the table,” nothing has been decided yet, reports the Washington Post. Egypt is trying to broker a cease-fire but any kind of agreement seems far away. Hamas appears to be demanding a complete lifting of the Gaza blockade as well as guarantees that Israel will end targeted killings, reports the Associated Press. For its part, Israel wants guarantees that rocket fire from Gaza will cease once and for all.

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The Palestinian death toll now stands at 53 since the Gaza offensive began Wednesday, 20 of whom were civilians. More than 400 civilians have been wounded. Three Israeli civilians have been killed and more than 50 wounded, according to the AP.

If the rockets from Gaza have not exacted a higher toll on Israel it’s in large part due to the U.S.-financed Iron Dome shield that is designed to intercept rockets when they are heading toward populated areas. Since Wednesday, the shield has knocked out 245 rockets from the sky, according to the New York Times, while 500 have hit inside Israel.

The Arab League is pushing its members to end normalization of relations with Israel because of the Gaza offensive, reports Bloomberg. Protests have broken out in Cairo, Turkey, and Iran against Israel’s attacks.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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