Israeli bombardment takes out TV centre: witnesses

AFP, November 18

FRESH Israeli air strikes hit a Gaza City media centre and homes in northern Gaza as the death toll mounted, despite suggestions from Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi that there could be a “ceasefire soon”.

“At least six journalists were wounded, with minor and moderate injuries, when Israeli warplanes hit the al-Quds TV office in the Showa and Housari building in the Rimal neighbourhood of Gaza City,” health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said.

Witnesses reported extensive damage to the building, used by Hamas for broadcasts, and said journalists had evacuated after an initial strike, which was followed by at least two more on the site.

Israel keeps pounding Gaza by air, says it intercepted missile fired by Hamas at Tel Aviv

Washington Post, By Karin Brulliard & Abigail Hauslohner, November 17

Jerusalem — Israel’s four-day-old air offensive in the Gaza Strip expanded to target Hamas government buildings on Saturday and Palestinian militants continued firing a torrent of rockets at civilian areas in southern Israel as both sides stepped up diplomatic efforts to win support.

Israeli airstrikes over Gaza accelerated to nearly 200 early in the day, including one hit that reduced the offices of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to a smoldering concrete heap. That strike, along with others on a police headquarters and smuggling tunnels along the strip’s southern border with Egypt, raised questions about whether Israel had broadened its mission to including toppling the Hamas government that rules the coastal strip.

Just before sundown, Hamas said it had fired an Iranian-made Fajr-5 rocket at Tel Aviv, and air raid sirens sounded in that city for the third day in a row. The Israeli military said its newly deployed missile defense battery intercepted the rocket before it landed in the populous coastal city.

Even as airstrikes pounded the area Saturday morning, the foreign minister of Tunisia’s Islamist-led government, Rafik Abdessalem, arrived in Gaza with a delegation, underscoring Hamas’s newfound credibility in a region dramatically altered by the Arab Spring. Abdessalem expressed outrage at what he called Israeli “aggression” and pledged to unite with other Arab countries to end the conflict.

Israel fires at Syria after shooting aimed at its troops

Reuters, November 17

Jerusalem – Israeli soldiers fired artillery into Syria in response to gunfire aimed at its troops in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, a military spokeswoman said on Sunday.

There were no reported injuries on the Israeli side from the shootings, which occurred on Saturday, the third case this month of violence seen as a spillover of civil unrest in Syria that has also alarmed other neighbors such as Lebanon and Turkey.

“Gunshots from Syria were fired at Israeli forces in the central Golan. Israel responded with artillery fire,” striking at those who initiated the shooting, the spokeswoman said.

Gaza braces for invasion as death toll mounts

White House calls for diplomacy after Israeli air strikes destroy Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh’s headquarters

The Guardian, By Harriet Sherwood and Peter Beaumont, November 17

Gaza is braced for a ground invasion by Israeli forces following intensified bombing that included the flattening of the headquarters of the Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

As the Israeli military began the emergency call-up of up to 75,000 reservists, leaders from Turkey, Egypt and Qatar met in Cairo to discuss ways of ending the escalating violence. Since Wednesday Israel has launched more than 950 air strikes on the coastal Palestinian territory, targeting weaponry and flattening militant homes and headquarters.

The raids continued past midnight on Sunday. Witnesses said one targeted a building in Gaza City housing the offices of local Arab media, wounding three journalists from al-Quds television, a Lebanon-based station that Israel sees as pro-Hamas. The building is also used by foreign news outlets including Germany’s ARD, Kuwait TV, the Italian RAI and others.

Various tweeters are reporting that ships are blitzing the Gaza City from the sea…

New York Times: Israel Broadens Its Bombing in Gaza to Include Government Sites
BBC: Israel shells Gaza from sea as rocket-fire continues
Al Jazeera: Israel pounds Gaza Strip from air and sea

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  • Iran denies supplying Fajr 5 rockets to Gaza

    AFP, November 17

    Tehran – A senior Iranian official has denied his country supplied the Fajr 5 missiles which Palestinian militants have been firing at Tel Aviv, Iran’s al-Alam television reported on Saturday.

    “We deny having delivered the Fajr 5 to the Palestinian resistance. The aim of such accusations is to portray the resistance as weak whereas it is perfectly capable of producing the arms it needs,” said Allaeddine Boroujerdi, head of parliament’s foreign affairs committee.

    Islamic Jihad claimed its militants fired a Fajr 5 which crashed into the sea off Tel Aviv on Thursday, in the first such attack on the heart of Israel since Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi regime fired Scud missiles during the 1991 Gulf war.

    Muslim world must retaliate against Israel for Gaza: Iran

    AFP, November 17

    Tehran – Islamic countries must close ranks and respond to Israel’s deadly attacks on the Gaza Strip, Iran’s Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi said on Saturday.

    “Putting an end to the Zionist (Israeli) regime’s crimes is only possible through a united, revolutionary retaliation by the Muslim world,” Vahidi said in remarks carried by the official IRNA news agency.

    Israel is “massacring the oppressed Palestinian people, including women and children” and its strikes amount to a “clear example of war crimes,” the defense minister charged.

    The Jewish state launched a major air offensive on Gaza on Wednesday with a strike that killed the top military commander of the Islamist movement Hamas which rules the territory.

    Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, whose country is a key backer of Hamas, on Thursday urged the United Nations and European Union to pressure Israel to halt its offensive, saying the security of the Middle East was at stake.

  • Israeli forces prepare for war as troops mass on Gaza border

    Anxiously scanning the skies for the vapour trails of Hamas rockets flying overhead towards their homes, Israel’s tank crews were preparing on Saturday for an invasion of Gaza.

    The Telegraph, By Phoebe Greenwood, Damien McElroy and Nick Meo, November 17

    Gaza City/Tel Aviv – Thousands of soldiers and hundreds of tanks and armoured vehicles were at muster points, as speculation mounted that Israel was to launch a ground offensive against the Islamists who control the Gaza Strip.

    The Israeli cabinet called up 75,000 reservists on Saturday – many soldiers checking their weapons by Saturday night were at work in offices and factories on Friday morning.

    “Morale is high. We are currently training and preparing for ground possibilities,” said Lt Col Avital Leibovich of the Israel Defence Forces. “This is isn’t like any other operation. This is to defend 3.5 million Israelis who are under rocket attack.”


    “We only have rockets. Israel has F-16s, Apache helicopters, tanks,” said Mohammed Abdullah, 38. “If Israel decides to enter by land, all we will have is God on our side.”

  • Latest developments


    *Israel ready to ‘significantly expand’ Gaza offensive.

    *Britain warns Israel that Gaza invasion would cost the country international support.

    *Israel ready to “expand” offensive, PM Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday as air strikes on Gaza continue.

    *Two Hamas rockets intercepted by “Iron Dome” over Tel Aviv.

    *UN Secretary-General to visit Egpyt for talks on Gaza crisis on Monday

    *At least 50 Palestinians—including 14 children—and three Israelis have so far been killed since the fighting erupted last week.

    *France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius headed for Jerusalem and Ramallah on Sunday to push for peace.

  • Death toll jumps in Gaza conflict

    BBC, November 18

    An Israeli strike on a home in Gaza has killed at least 10 people, officials say, as Sunday became the deadliest day since Israel launched an operation against Hamas militants last week.

    BBC correspondents say the strike targeted a Hamas official and that a number of children were killed.

    PM Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel is ready to expand its operation.

    Gaza militants continue to fire rockets at Israel, with injuries reported in towns including Ashkelon and Ofakim.

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