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Palestinians strike to protest Israeli military action in Gaza, but no cease-fire in sight

Correction: In this story, we accidentally referred to Israel’s Iron Dome system as an 'anti-defense missile system.' It is an anti-missile defense system. NewsHour regrets the error.

John Yang reports on the ongoing crisis in the Middle East as calls for a ceasefire are ignored and destruction spreads as Palestinian rocket fire and Israeli artillery attacks continue on day nine with no let-up in sight.

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  • Amna Nawaz:

    Well, day nine of the battle between Israel and militants in Gaza has come and gone with still no sign of a cease-fire.

    Late today, another barrage of rockets was fired from Gaza into Israel. Overall, the two sides report more than 200 Palestinians and a dozen Israelis killed to date. And at least one person died today in the West Bank.

    John Yang has our report.

  • John Yang:

    In Israel and the West Bank, streets normally bustling with activity were empty today, as Palestinians went on a general strike, an unusual joint action to show solidarity with Gaza and to protest their own treatment by Israel.

  • Diaa Rabaya’a (through translator):

    The strike is a must on all of us, as youth, to take part in this strike, to stop working for at least a day, to create some change in Jerusalem and the country.

  • John Yang:

    Hundreds of thousands gathered in central squares, waving Palestinian flags.

  • Mustafa Barghouti:

    This is reflecting the common struggle of Palestinians, not only against apartheid, but it is also a voice of solidarity with our people who are being bombarded now in Gaza.

  • John Yang:

    Tensions flared when Israeli soldiers moved to disperse crowds. On the West Bank, they fired tear gas canisters at protesters who had been burning tires.

    In East Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, police fired stun grenades and deployed a water cannon, this as the Israeli military operations against Hamas militants in Gaza maintained their steady pace.

    This morning, desks, chairs and books from a Gaza City university building lay scattered over a pile of rubble. Next door, Jamal Herzallah and his family cleaned up the damage to their home. Israeli forces had given them five minutes' notice of the attack, just enough time to escape.

  • Jamal Herzallah (through translator):

    What's this at the hour of 5:30 in the morning? The people were still sleeping. The planes struck the street, our lives. We had no idea where we wanted to go or where to run.

  • John Yang:

    In Rafah, to the south, residents said an Israeli tank shell started a massive fire at a paint factory.

    Two million Palestinians in Gaza have been caught in a crossfire that broke out last week when Hamas, which controls the territory, began firing rockets into Israel. Israeli officials say they are acting to protect Israelis.

  • Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus:

    That's the focus, to degrade the capabilities of Hamas and Islamic Jihad so that, in the future they will pose less of a threat against Israeli civilians.

    There's still a lot of work in terms of their underground infrastructure and in terms of the capacity to fire rockets. At this stage, still, unfortunately, if Hamas decides to fire rockets at Tel Aviv, unfortunately, they still have the capacity to do so.

  • John Yang:

    Explosions in Gaza City roared through the night, as flashes from Hamas' rockets fired toward Israel illuminated the sky. Israel said they tallied up to 90 rockets fired, though 20 of them fell short into Gaza and many more were intercepted by Israel's anti-missile defense system.

    Rockets that did get through this afternoon struck a farm in Southern Israel. Police said two Thai workers were killed. And a building in the coastal city of Ashdod also suffered a hit, more violence as international efforts to broker peace stalled again.

    While traveling in Denmark, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said diplomatic efforts behind the scenes are ongoing.

  • Tony Blinken:

    Our goal remains to bring the current cycle of violence to an end as quickly as possible and then bring the parties back to the work of building lasting stability.

  • John Yang:

    A goal that doesn't appear to be in sight, as Israeli military officials say they expect operations in Gaza to continue for days to come.

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

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