Conflict between Israel and Hamas intensifies
by Joshua Lapide
Missiles reach Tel Aviv and Jerusalem where air-raid shelters have been re-activated. The raids have left 28 dead and hundreds injured in Gaza. 40 thousand reservists recalled. "Invasions and ground operations” not ruled out. The Palestinian government of national unity is the "illustrious" victim of these latest clashes.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - Israeli planes bombed the Gaza Strip this morning in an attempt to stop a rain of missiles that have been pouring down on areas south of Israel for days and now have even hit Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

The Israeli strikes in Gaza seem to have targeted military commanders, but there are civilian casualties. In Beit Hanoun a house was hit, killing the commander of the Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, but family members were also killed, a woman and two children. The death toll from these past two days is 208 Palestinians dead and 100 injured.  

Yesterday Hamas rockets targeted the two most populous cities in Israel, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Tel Aviv was protected by the Israeli defense system; there were no reported injuries in Jerusalem.

The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades claim to have launched missiles up to Haifa (160 km from the border with the Gaza Strip), but there has been no confirmation from the Israeli side. In any case, the air-raid shelters in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem were put back into operation.

From mid-June, since the start of this latest series of clashes, hundreds of rockets have hit southern Israel; 40 were intercepted. So far no Israeli citizens have been wounded or killed.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel "will not tolerate fire missiles on our cities and towns." For this reason, "operations against Hamas and other terrorist organizations" have been "stretched".

The Israeli security office has approved the recall of 40 thousand reservists and there are unofficial rumors of a possible "invasion or ground operation" against Hamas.

Israelis and Arabs newspapers point out that the "illustrious"  victim of this new round of war is the Palestinian national unity government, which was launched in early June, putting an end to the struggle between Hamas and Fatah, which lasted for seven years. Fringe extremists among the Palestinians boycotted the agreement - which includes non-violence - continuing rocket fire and kidnapping and killing three young Israelis.

Even Netanyahu has now sided against the Palestinian national unity government, fearing that this unity could promote a wider international recognition of Palestine.