Conflict in Gaza escalates with airstrikes from both sides

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November 17, 2012, 7:09 pm
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(NECN: Julie Loncich) - The conflict in Gaza continued to escalate Saturday as militants fired more than 100 rockets toward Israel.

Two of those rockets were aimed at Tel Aviv, but one was shot down by Israel's Iron Dome defense system.

In return, Israel carried out about 300 airstrikes in Gaza, hitting the prime minister's headquarters and a network of smuggling tunnels.

A health official in Gaza says Israeli strikes on Saturday have killed 12 people and wounded dozens more. Since Israel began its military operations on Wednesday, 42 Palestinians and 3 Israeli civilians have been killed.

Meanwhile, the concern is that the situation has escalated to the point where an all-out war is now a real possibility.

Airstrikes by the hundreds have become almost daily now, as many fear a ground invasion is almost imminent.

"We have the right to defend ourselves," says Israeli Consul General of New England Shai Bazak. "No other country in the world bears such a difficult time to its citizens, would bear rocket launches to the center of its cities. It's just intolerable."

On the Saturday, President Barack Obama again defended Israel's right to defend itself. Much of Bazak's own family is in Israel and says the level of fear is at an all time high.

"We don't want to live in this chaos. We don't want to live under missiles and rockets," Bazak says.

"I feel heartsick, I feel a sense of despair," says Nancy Murray of the Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights.

Murray founded the Gaza Mental Health Foundation, and was most recently in Gaza in 2009. She questions continued support from the United States.

"There's no where to hide in Gaza. When they say they are warning to get out of their houses so they won't be victims of a strike, where do you go? There's no place to hide. It's a sand bar," she says.

Both Murray and Bazak have very different views as to what caused the current conflict, and both don't know that a peaceful resolution is plausible at this point.

"In the last seven years, we have pulled out of Gaza already. We are out of there, so they have no reason to keep targeting our citizens," Bazak says.

"Do they really ever intend to make peace and live alongside those people? Because if so, this is a funny way to go about it," Murray says.

Tags: Israel, Hamas, Palestine, Gaza, Shai Bazak, Julie Loncich, Conflict, Nancy Murray
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