Hillary Clinton Arrives in Mideast Intent on Brokering End to Escalated Violence
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JUDY WOODRUFF: This was a day of urgent diplomacy aimed at stopping the battle of airstrikes and rockets between Israel and Hamas. Rumors of a cease-fire flew all day, and Secretary of State Clinton arrived in the region after nightfall.
She met first with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and she called for more than just a temporary truce.
SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: The rocket attacks from terrorist organizations inside Gaza on Israeli cities and towns must end and a broader calm restored.
The goal must be a durable outcome that promotes regional stability and advances the security and legitimate aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians alike.
JEFFREY BROWN: Prime Minister Netanyahu said he would welcome a diplomatic solution. But failing that, he said will take whatever military action is necessary.
Underscoring that point, the Israelis launched new airstrikes after dark.
We have a report from John Ray of Independent Television News in Gaza.
And a warning: Some of the images may be disturbing.
JOHN RAY: They packed in a panic, loading cars and donkey carts. Tonight, Israel warned Palestinians to evacuate the border, to head to the safety of GazaCity. Whether war or peace was heading their way, these people took no chances and fled.
Too late for this boy who woke today to a nightmare that will never end. Ashraf has just found out that his father and brothers are dead. They don’t dare tell his sister. She lies in a side ward, her back broken, a family shattered.
NABEEL HIJAZY, GazaCity: They don’t have any — no Hamas, no Fatah, nothing, nothing, nothing. He’s in the house. In that time, in that time, all the children sleeping in the house.
JOHN RAY: Where their house once stood, there is now a deep crater. Evidently, this was a precision strike. Israel says it has hit only terrorist targets.
People here are torn by twin emotions, the desire to make Israel pay for all this destruction, all this death. At the same time, there’s a yearning for peace to bring this killing to an end.
This is a war that seems to be ending on a bang, not a whimper.
The last few hours this evening have seen both sides intensify hostilities. There’s been no holding back, even as peace beckons. And in the hospital, another family tragedy unfolds. A girl cries for her father, but he has perished.
In intensive care, there are yet more children, all with blast injuries, all fighting for their lives.
Ashraf tells me his people will never give up their struggle. Cease-fire or no cease-fire, the cycle of violence and suffering has spanned another generation.
JUDY WOODRUFF: The Palestinians have reported more than 130 killed since the Israeli offensive began.
The Israeli death toll rose to five today, when a rocket blast killed a soldier and a civilian contractor.
John Irvine, of Independent Television News, filed this report from Southern Israel.
JOHN IRVINE: On its way into the front garden of a family home, the Palestinian rocket cut the tops of trees and severed a power cable. But the engineers in their flak jackets had it fixed within a couple of hours, routine stuff in an Israeli town hit by dozens of rockets in the last week.
The lady of the house, however, knew this had been a close call and was furious. She said: “We live in fear and under fire. We can’t take the children outside. We can’t go anywhere.”
That nobody was injured was thanks to a warning system fitted to every house in the town. When it goes off, it gets everyone’s attention.
If it says to run, you run?
WOMAN: Yes, yes, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep.
JOHN IRVINE: This town is so close to the Gaza Strip that when the alarm goes off, residents have just 15 seconds to make it to safety. On this occasion, the homeowner came through here and got into her bomb-proof room just in time.
For more than a decade, Palestinian rockets have been part of life here. But the intensity of the attacks of the last week has brought everything to a standstill.
MAN: Today, it’s alarm for 20 — 20 times.
JOHN IRVINE: Twenty times?
MAN: Twenty times.
JOHN IRVINE: Previous cease-fires have been nothing more than pauses. People here need a permanent end to this.