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Israel-Gaza conflict escalates despite truce efforts

Editor's note: In this story we reported on a statement from the Israel Defense Forces that said ground troops had entered Gaza. Later in the evening, the IDF clarified that troops had not entered Gaza, though the number of troops along the border is growing.

Fighting between Israel and Hamas raged for a fourth day with waves of rockets and air strikes. Between both sides nearly 90 Palestinians and 7 Israelis have reportedly been killed so far. Israel also called up another 9,000 troops — for a possible ground offensive — as Egypt tries to broker a cease-fire. John Yang reports on the ongoing conflict.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The battle between Israel and Hamas is escalating sharply tonight. That follows four days of rocket attacks and air raids and reports of more than 100 Palestinians and seven Israelis killed so far.

    John Yang has the latest.

  • John Yang:

    Tonight, Israeli tanks and armored personnel carriers headed for the border with Gaza, as Israeli military officials say they have begun a ground assault into the Palestinian enclave. Earlier, the Israeli defense minister approved the call-up of 9,000 more reservists.

    And Israel faced a new threat from the north. Rockets were fired from Lebanon toward Northern Israel, according to military officials in both nations. This comes after violence among citizens and police in mixed Arab-Israeli cities like Lod.

    This new wave of unrest between Arab and Jewish Israelis raises the specter of civil conflict.

  • Pinchas Hadid (through translator):

    People are doing whatever they want, torching, looting, hitting. We are on the verge of an abyss. This is not a way to manage a country.

  • Subhi Talaib (through translator):

    We need to live here together, co-existence. We need to be together, partners, to be partners to each other.

  • John Yang:

    In Bat Yam, just south of Tel Aviv, a stunned Arab shop owner returned to her damaged ice cream parlor. A Jewish mob had attacked the business late yesterday.

  • Joana Nasser (through translator):

    We have been living here for years, and we did not expect something like this. A lot of people supported us, but, even so, they did it, because we speak Arabic.

    We are here for 20 years, with Jewish residents, neighbors, family, friends, all sorts.

  • John Yang:

    An Israeli enduring Lod said he was confronted by an era bomb.

  • Eden Maltzur (through translator):

    Some 100 Arabs came up to me and asked me if I am a Jew or an Arab. I told me them Arab. They heard that my accent was not Arab, ran up to my car, and they started throwing stones.

  • John Yang:

    Jewish mobs in Bat Yam yelled obscene anti-Arab chants as they marched through the streets.

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has imposed administrative detention to hold people without charge to try to curb the violence. Israeli police say nearly 400 people have been arrested since yesterday.

    Today, Netanyahu said he expects more unrest.

  • Benjamin Netanyahu (through translator):

    I cannot tell you that we are not facing escalation. The intelligence we have says that it is very possible that there will be an increase in violence here in the coming days. In order to suppress a riot, we need to use force, a lot of force.

  • John Yang:

    This as the fighting between Hamas and Israeli forces continued despite mediation attempts by Egyptian security officials.

    In a video message released today, a Hamas spokesman signaled that its attacks would continue.

  • Abu Obaida (through translator):

    The decision to bomb Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and any cities before or after that from our occupied cities is easier for us than drinking water.

  • John Yang:

    Rockets from Gaza continued to scream into Southern and Central Israel, as air raid sirens blared.

    People in Ashkelon ran and ducked down for cover. Diners at a cafe in Lod hid in the kitchen area for safety. Meanwhile, residents in Gaza were reeling from ongoing Israeli airstrikes. An Israeli Defense Force official called a building owner in Gaza, warning him of an incoming strike and telling him to evacuate those inside.

  • Man (through translator):

    The building is residential. What is in to hit it? I asked the Israeli Defense Force caller, what was there in order to hit it? He said, after it is bombed, I will call you and tell you why. I tried to find out why. All are normal apartments and shops.

  • John Yang:

    Still, some try to spread hope, as a subdued Eid celebration continues, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

  • Hassan Abu Shaaban (through translator):

    I distribute chocolate because I want to feel the joy of Eid and make those around me feel the joy of Eid, because, as you can see, there is no atmosphere for Eid at all. It is all airstrikes, destruction and devastation.

    May God help everyone.

  • John Yang:

    A sentiment likely held on both sides.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm John Yang.

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