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Israel escalates aerial offensive on Gaza

JERUSALEM (AP) - Israel dramatically escalated its aerial assault in Gaza Thursday hitting hundreds of Hamas targets, and the Palestinians said a family of eight was killed in a strike that destroyed their home. Israel's missile defense system once again intercepted rockets fired by militants at the country's heartland.

Military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said Israel struck more than 320 Hamas targets overnight, focusing on underground tunnel networks and rocket launching sites. That brought the total number of targets hit to 750 in three days of the massive offensive. At least 75 Palestinians have been killed.

Lerner said Israel has already mobilized 20,000 reservists for a possible ground operation into Gaza, but for the time being Israel remained focused on maximizing its air campaign. A ground invasion could lead to heavy civilian casualties on the Palestinian side while putting Israeli ground forces in danger.

Neither side is showing any sign of halting their heaviest fighting since an eight-day battle in late 2012. Israel says that Hamas must cease rocket fire from Gaza for Israel to consider a truce. Militants have fired hundreds of rockets, striking across the length of Israel and disrupting life across the country. No one has been seriously harmed as the "Iron Dome" defense system has intercepted at least 70 of the projectiles destined for major population centers.

"The ground option needs to be the last option and only if it is absolutely necessary. It is a carefully designed plan of action," Lerner said.

Palestinian medical officials said a strike early Thursday struck a home in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, killing eight members of a family. The Israeli military also said it struck a car in Gaza carrying three Islamic Jihad militants involved in firing rockets. The militant group confirmed that its men were killed in the strike.

At least 20 civilians have been among the 75 deaths reported by the Health Ministry in Gaza, though the exact number is not known.

Israel accuses militants of deliberately endangering civilians by using homes and other civilian buildings for cover. The military has also directly targeted the homes of known militants that it says are used as command centers, though it says it contacts the families first to evacuate.

Yigal Palmor, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, said Hamas is firing rockets from "within houses and streets and neighborhoods which are populated with civilians ... exposing these civilians to retaliation and to backfire."

After an overnight lull, militants resumed their barrage toward central and southern Israel. Remnants of a long-range rocket fired from Gaza landed in a gas station in south Tel Aviv after being shot down by Israel's "Iron Dome" defense system.

The longer range of the rockets fired from Gaza has disrupted life across southern and central Israel, where people have been forced to remain close to home, and kindergartens and summer camps have closed.

Besides firing toward Israel's two largest cities of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Hamas also launched a rocket that reached the town of Zichron Yaakov, more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Gaza.

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joan July 10 2014 at 6:27 AM

Hamas is emboldened by Obama's prejudice of Israel and the Jews and favoritism of the Muslims. Obama aligns himself with the religion of terror rather than the religion of industry, independence and peace. The Jews are survivors and I am hoping they can hang on until we get rid of this scourge in the White House and all his entourage. I am ashamed of our President and am hoping the world understands that all but the entitlement people and most of the Democrats are not like him nor do they agree with his platform. God help us for awhile longer.

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38 replies
whdlsn July 10 2014 at 6:18 AM

Israel knows how to deal with terrorists. Our regime could take some lessons. Oh wait, Obama likes Hamas and Fatah. Never mind.

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12 replies
hrdbal51 July 10 2014 at 6:22 AM

Biased headline but what would you expect from the Huff Post/AOL. What about Israel's pain and suffering from these Hamas terrorists??? Destroy Hamas period.

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25 replies
Stephen July 10 2014 at 6:37 AM

Israel realizes that they are now alone in the world thanks to Obama, so they I believe now they will take action against any country that attacks them. No more waiting by way of politics. You attack them and they will attack you right back and swiftly.

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15 replies
joeljoey5160 July 10 2014 at 6:12 AM

Gaza will soon be a parking lot.

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7 replies
MORT THE SPORT July 10 2014 at 6:29 AM

about time.

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3 replies
samlupowitz July 10 2014 at 9:52 AM

I don't want to hear about the deaths of the wives and the parents and the children and the siblings of the terrorists. That blood is 100% on the hands of the terrorists. I'd rather that 1,000,000 so-called innocents die than 1 Israeli ground troop. The solution to the entire mess is very simple. Stop firing rockets into Israel, stop exploding bombs in Israel, stop kidnapping and murdering Israelis, recognize Israel's right to exist, sit down with Israel and negotiate borders for a new country called Palestine. Do those things and there will be peace. Don't do those things and you will continue to live in the hell you now live in, which is 100% your own making.

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9 replies
mvnup July 10 2014 at 6:42 AM

Go Israel

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1 reply
gkokali mvnup July 10 2014 at 12:55 PM


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littlelady July 10 2014 at 6:58 AM

if Obama really cares about the people in Israel and the USA let him send American solders in to help. if he is a Muslim he should be removed as president of the united states of America as he also a one of the bad guys. G-D bless Israel. and it's people

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7 replies
madkono July 10 2014 at 9:48 AM

how can you tell a liberal/socialist??? they'll tell you that it's murder to target hamas missile sites, but it's ok, to bomb civilians, even their own!!!

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1 reply
Rev Josey Wales madkono July 10 2014 at 11:46 AM

How can you tell an idiot? Read your comment.

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