Israel's leaders said they were escalating the military campaign in Gaza and told the country to prepare for a prolonged operation, defying international demands for an immediate cease-fire after Hamas militants broke a Muslim holiday lull.
The military chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, said Israel's assault on Gaza's Hamas rulers was being "intensified" after three weeks of fighting that have cost more than 1,100 lives.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a televised address, gave no sign the military would go beyond its stated goals—degrading Hamas's rocket arsenal and finding and destroying a network of cross-border tunnels that fighters use to infiltrate Israel. According to officials, the military needs about another week to accomplish that.
"We will not finish the mission, we will not finish the operation, without neutralizing the tunnels, which have the sole purpose of annihilating our citizens and killing our children," the prime minister said. He told Israelis to brace for a prolonged fight.
As he spoke, the military sent messages instructing thousands of Palestinians living on the outskirts of Gaza City to leave their homes and take shelter in the city center—an apparent prelude to an assault on suspected Hamas positions in civilian neighborhoods.
Later, flares lighted up the midnight sky over Gaza City, accompanied by repeated explosions that rattled windows.
Mr. Netanyahu ordered a resumption of attacks after Hamas struck two military targets inside Israel on Monday, lobbing a mortar that killed four soldiers at a makeshift base 4 miles from the Gaza border and popping up from a cross-border tunnel to open fire on a military patrol. The military said it killed five militants in a firefight at the tunnel opening.
Hamas responded defiantly to Mr. Netanyahu's comments.
"His threats do not scare Hamas or the Palestinian people," said Samy Abu Zohry, a spokesman for the Islamist group that governs Gaza. "The [Israeli] occupation will pay the price for the massacres against civilians and children."
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon singled out Israel, accusing it of "pummeling" Gazans with "indiscriminate destruction" and warned the Jewish state to fulfill its obligations as "an occupying power" to protect civilians.
The U.N. chief demanded that Israel and Hamas end the violence "in the name of humanity." He accused Mr. Netanyahu and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal of being "morally wrong" for letting their people get killed. Mr. Ban said he spoke to Mr. Netanyahu on Monday, urging him to accept a cease-fire first, then to address the root causes of the conflict. An emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council called for an "immediate and unconditional humanitarian cease-fire," echoing President Barack Obama's appeal in a phone call to Mr. Netanyahu on Sunday.
Mr. Obama's call to Mr. Netanyahu stoked concern among Israelis about a rift with the U.S. that could complicate the search for a cease-fire. Tensions are still raw after Israel's cabinet on Thursday rejected a proposal for a one-week cease-fire by Secretary of StateJohn Kerry, saying it addressed Hamas's demands for open borders but not Israel's demand for a demilitarization of Gaza.
Yup, even the left in Israel, Haaretz, Livni were disgusted with obammy's minion the treasonous Kerry. One senior report for the liberal Haaretz, even said in his article that he couldnt believe that he himself was actually supporting Bibi, and calling him by that nick name!
This says it all! Bibi and the nation of Israel dont care anymore...they are on their own...
Yea, that has actually been surprising me as well..I was getting ready to post an article about Livni supporting this latest military action in Gaza and her distain for Kerry's plan and I was somewhat surprised (pleasantly) at that. I can't recall ever seeing her in support of something like this before.
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