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Hamas Launches Rockets at Tel Aviv, Israel Plans for Gaza Military Offensive

A day after Israeli airstrikes over Gaza began, Hamas fired back with more than 200 rockets and Israel operated plane raids in order to target Hamas' underground launching sites. John Ray of Independent Television News reports on the escalation of violence, which has claimed casualties on both sides of the border.

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    Israel and the militant group Hamas slid closer to all-out war today. The Israelis blasted Gaza with scores of airstrikes, and the Palestinians said 16 people were killed there.

    Hamas and its allies fired more than 200 rockets and even struck as far away as Tel Aviv. Three Israelis were killed.

    We begin with this report by John Ray of Independent Television News.


    In Gaza, gunfire and a thirst for revenge. Thousands thronged the streets for the funeral of the Hamas leader killed by Israel, the first death of this conflict, but how many more will follow?

    The mood here is of great anger and defiance. Militarily, Hamas is no match for the Israeli air force. But they say this is a death that must and will be avenged.

    So, no cease-fire in sight, just a ceaseless barrage of rockets and missiles, and misery on both sides of the border.

    Here, three Israelis died when their home suffered a direct hit. Israeli defenses have intercepted rockets. And Israel's air force has stepped up its bombardment.

    It calls these precision strikes on terror targets, weapons dumps and launch sites.

    But in crowded Gaza, civilians are suffering too. There is no such thing as a war in which innocents escape. Omar was just 11 months old, a happy and smiling boy, his mother says.

    Now she is lost in grief. Her son and her sister-in-law died when an Israeli shell crashed through their roof and began an all-consuming inferno.

    An older brother survived. No one in the family can bear to tell him what happened.


    We have rockets here? We have guns? Around my place, we don't have any resistance. All of them is civilians, just civilians.


    Tonight, Palestinian rockets are reaching ever closer to Israel's heart, sirens sounding over Tel Aviv, the biggest city. Authorities have told residents to be ready to run to shelters.

    Meanwhile, Israel is massing forces at the Gaza border, their presence a warning to Hamas and perhaps a statement of intent, too.


    After nightfall in the region, Israeli planes carried out major raids across GazaCity. The skyline lit up with explosions from dozens of new airstrikes.

    The Israelis said they had targeted some 70 underground launching sites for Hamas' medium-range rockets.

    But leaders of the militants maintained their defiance. Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh eulogized the group's military commander killed by the Israelis yesterday. And he vowed revenge.

    ISMAIL HANIYEH, Hamas prime minister (through translator): This noble blood will not be shed in vain, and this brave nation, which for more than a century has offered sacrificers, martyrs, leaders, POWs and wounded, we will never let their blood be shed in vain. It is impossible for this movement to let their blood be in vain.


    Meanwhile, the new Islamist president of Egypt, Mohammed Morsi, denounced the Israelis. And his government asked the U.S. to press for an end to the offensive. But the Obama administration lined up with the Israelis. State Department spokesman Mark Tanner said — Toner — excuse me — said the U.S. believes Israel has the right to defend itself.

    MARK TONER, State Department spokesperson: Our position is clear that there's no justification for the violence that Hamas and other terrorist organizations are employing against Israel.

    And the onus is on them to cease their rocket attacks, so that this de-escalation can take place.