Israel Expands Air Assault; Ground Troops Stay Put

Office of Hamas prime minister is hit in Gaza

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 17, 2012 7:00 AM CST

(Newser) – Israel stepped up its air war on Gaza overnight after Hamas took the unprecedented step yesterday of firing rockets toward Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, reports the BBC. Still, no ground assault took place, though reservists stand at the ready and armored vehicles are massed at the border. The Israeli airstrikes hit the office of the Hamas prime minister, who wasn't there at the time, and a spokesman for Benjamin Netanyahu explained the rationale for moving beyond pure military targets to government buildings.

“It is clear that Hamas itself makes no distinction between its terrorist military machine and the government structure and that they are intertwined," he said, reports the New York Times. In four days of fighting, Al Jazeera says 39 Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed. President Obama spoke with Netanyahu last night and "reiterated US support for Israel's right to self-defense and discussed possible ways to scale back the conflict," according to AP. Obama also called Egyptian leader Mohammed Morsi, and the White House said the president praised Morsi's efforts to ease tensions, without offering specifics.

Smoke rises following an Israeli strike in Gaza on Saturday.
Smoke rises following an Israeli strike in Gaza on Saturday.   (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
A Palestinian man walks among debris after an Israeli airstrike at Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh's office, right, in Gaza City, Saturday.
A Palestinian man walks among debris after an Israeli airstrike at Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh's office, right, in Gaza City, Saturday.   (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Palestinian firefighters work at the scene of an Israeli airstrike on a building in the Jebaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip Saturday.
Palestinian firefighters work at the scene of an Israeli airstrike on a building in the Jebaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip Saturday.   (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
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