Gaza (AsiaNews / Agencies)-A building in Kiryat Malachi, southern Israel, has been hit by a rocket. According to police people have died, others are trapped in the structure. The rocket was launched in response to the massive offensive on the Gaza Strip by the Israeli army launched yesterday. Today, the UN Security Council will meet in an extraordinary session to discuss the situation in the Middle East. Barak Obama has contacted the Egyptian president Morsi to attempt mediation between Israel and Hamas.
Yesterday twenty air raids struck the Palestinian territories. The operation called "pillar of defense" aims to destroy the armed wing of Hamas, which in recent days has directed its rockets at Israeli Negev. Ahmed Jaabari, 52, considered the '"strongman in Gaza, "was killed in the bombing. He was the commander of the armed wing of Hamas, the Ezzedin al-Qassam Brigades, and the mind behind the kidnap of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier abducted in 2006 and released October 18, 2011. However, the targeted operation has cost the lives of at least nine civilians, including three children.
Shortly after the beginning of the raid, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "Today, we have sent a clear message to Hamas and other terrorist organizations. And if necessary the Israeli defense forces are ready to expand our influence." This phrase has been interpreted by many as a reference to a possible land invasion in case of reprisals from Hamas. "We will continue - said the Prime Minister - to do everything possible to protect our citizens."
For its part, Hamas has launched an appeal on its official radio station, noting that "occupiers have opened the gates of hell" and that other Islamist groups help the Palestinians in revenge against the Israeli raids. "Israel has declared war on Gaza - they affirmed - and will suffer the consequences, including Islamic Jihad."
The Israeli air raids have provoked the condemnation of the Arab countries. Egypt has recalled its ambassador to Tel Aviv. Last night President Mohammad Morsi has called the representative of Israel in Cairo to protest against the bombing, according to diplomatic sources the officer had left Egypt with all staff to avoid the meeting. Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani, Qatar's foreign minister stated that "this heinous crime must not go unpunished." He announced that the Arab League will meet in extraordinary session on 16 November, following a request of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas. Western countries are more cautious calling on both sides to avoid the escalation of violence. The United States has stressed that the Pentagon is keeping the situation under close watch, and the British Foreign Office has sent a message to both parties calling for restraint.
On the ground Palestinians are reliving scenes from "Operation Cast Lead" that between 2008 and 2009 killed more than 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis. The operation "Pillar of defense" come three months ahead of Israeli elections scheduled for January 22, 2013 and a few weeks after the official request of the Palestinian Authority to for membership UN General Assembly of the United Nations as a non-member state . Yesterday, Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli foreign ministry said in a statement that "the only solution to prevent UN recognition of Palestine is to overthrow the regime of Mahmoud Abbas." According to the politician a possible entry in the Assembly of the United Nations would represent failure to all the leaders of Israel.