The Israeli campaign has been limited to airstrikes so far. But military officials say they are considering expanding it to a ground campaign.
Chad Groening (OneNewsNow)
Friday, November 16, 2012
Israel's former ambassador to the United Nations says Israel is prepared for an "all-out war," if necessary, to eradicate the terrorist group Hamas.
Dan Gillerman told the Fox News Channel this morning that the situation had become "unbearable" for Israel and that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided "enough is enough."
"No other country in the world -- certainly not the United States -- would stand for one minute for what Israel has taken over the last few years," said Gillerman. "Over a million of its people are under threat and under rocket attack, and children sleep in air raid shelters and cannot go to school. So, Israel is going to finish the job."
The ambassador described the terrorist group Hamas as a "brutal, evil enemy" and a "bloody proxy of Iran, which is intent on destroying Israel."
"And we will not just put it to sleep so it can wake up again and raise its ugly head. We will finish the job - and if it takes ground troops, if it takes an all-out war, we will make sure that Hamas will never again be in a position to disrupt and literally destroy Israeli lives."
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the rocket landed in an open area near Gush Ezion, a collection of Jewish settlements in the West Bank southeast of the city.
An attack on Israel's self-declared capital marks a major escalation by Gaza terrorists, both for its symbolism and its distance from the Palestinian territory. Located roughly 75 kilometers (50 miles) away from the Gaza border, Jerusalem had been thought to be beyond the range of Gaza rocket squads.
Abu Obeida, spokesman for the Hamas militant wing, said the group had fired a long-range rocket at Jerusalem.
"We are sending a short and simple message: There is no security for any Zionist on any single inch of Palestine and we plan more surprises," he said. Hamas officials said the rocket was a homemade "M-75" rocket, a weapon that has never been fired before.
It also marks a bit of a gamble for the militants. Gush terrorists is close to the Palestinian city of Bethlehem and just a few kilometers (miles) from the revered Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City, one of Islam's holiest sites. Jews call the compound the Temple Mount because of the biblical Jewish temples that once stood there.
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians live in Jerusalem and nearby areas of the West Bank.
Terrorists already have fired rockets into the southern outskirts of Tel Aviv, another unprecedented achievement, on Thursday. The rocket attacks have not hurt anyone in the bustling metropolis, but have caused panic and jitters.
Just a few years ago, Palestinian rockets were limited to crude, homemade devices manufactured in Gaza. But in recent years, Hamas and other terrorist groups have smuggled in sophisticated, longer-range rockets from Iran and Libya, which has been flush with weapons since Moammar Gadhafi was ousted last year. Most of the rockets do not have guided systems, limiting their accuracy, though Israeli officials believe the militants may have a small number of guided missiles that have not yet been deployed.
The strike occurred on the third day of an Israeli offensive in Gaza meant to halt rocket fire from the crowded seaside strip. Israel began the offensive Wednesday by assassinating Hamas' military chief and striking dozens of rocket launchers. But terrorists have continued to rain rockets across Israel.
The military spokeswoman said no decision has been made on whether to send ground troops or how long the Israeli offensive will last. Leibovich said all options are open, "including a ground operation."
Along the border Friday, tanks, armored vehicles and military bulldozers were parked in neat rows. Soldiers milled about, while buses filled with soldiers moved in the area.
Hamas terrorists have vowed to resist the Israeli offensive. They received a boost of solidarity on Friday with a visit by Egypt's prime minister, Hesham Kandil, who called on Israel to end its operation.
In all, 23 Palestinians have been killed, including 11 civilians, according to Gaza health officials, and 250 people wounded. Three Israelis were killed when a rocket hit an apartment building in southern Israel.