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Middle East conflict in Israel escalates

Israeli Policeman:  Until now, there have only been damages in the city of Ashdod to a large number of vehicles.
Israeli Policeman: Until now, there have only been damages in the city of Ashdod to a large number of vehicles.
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Wolf Blitzer in The Situation Room on CNN Tuesday, July 8 interrupted his program to announce an escalation in fighting as sirens began to sound, and rockets that could “potentially cause problems” to Israel despite its iron dome anti-missile defense fell near major Israeli cities. About 150 rockets had been launched from Gaza by Hamas, according to the estimates of Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces. Wolf called it the “brink of war,” describing what was “happening now” in “breaking news,” summing it up as “rockets intercepted near Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, deadly airstrikes in Gaza, and a bloody shoot-out on an Israeli beach. Israel is ready to mobilize tens of thousands of military reserves as an all out fight looms with Islamic militants.”

Israel's iron dome defense system intercepted many of the Palestinian rockets headed toward its largest cities like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, sending the people of Tel Aviv running for cover. Israeli forces pounded the Gaza Strip, targeting Hamas with returned volleys in answering airstrikes. Palestinian sources say more than 25 have lost their lives, among them leaders of Hamas' militant wing and at least two boys, one 10 years of age and the other 11. Israeli military said militants stormed Israeli beach armed with AK-47s and grenades. Israel proclaimed, “Hamas will pay a heavy price.” They claimed to have “targeted roughly 150 'terror sites' in Gaza,” according to the CNN report, saying children have been told to stay home from school and that shopping malls were closed all over Israel. The Israeli cabinet has authorized approximately 400 troops called up as the conflict escalates. However, last report 1,500 additional reservists had been called up.

As Gaza was hit by waves of airstrikes, Hamas warned, “Retaliations are coming.” In response, Israeli Police spokesman, Supt. Micky Rosenfeld told Wolf

“I can confirm that throughout the day there were more than 120 rockets that were fired by the Hamas from the Gaza Strip, inside Israel. The iron dome successfully took down more than 20 rockets and … sirens were heard both in Jerusalem as well as in the Tel Aviv area and … just south of Tel Aviv the rockets were intercepted.”

Blitzer asked if there had been any Israeli casualties or anyone killed or injured in any of the rocket attacks. Supt. Rosenfeld responded,

“What I can confirm, until now, there have only been damages in the city of Ashdod to a large number of vehicles. But, I don't think we should be looking at the numbers. What we should be looking at is the threat that the Hamas want to fire into heavily populated areas where women and children, now on holidays, camps, and people ... are out on the streets.”

Wolf ended the interview, asking the police superintendent if there had been just cause for the police to beat 15-year-old Tariq Abu Khdeir from the United States once he had been apprehended and handcuffed. Rosenfeld refused to make a specific response to the offense, only stating that it was not the policy of police to beat a restrained suspect and that it was being looked into. When Wolf inquired as to whether the teen would be allowed to return to the U.S. with his parents, Rosenfeld would only say that given he is studying in the U.S. with relatives here, the court would take that all under consideration.

An ABC News link to Tariq's story carries a photo of the beaten American teen; a link to the story of his teenage Palestinian cousin's murder, may be found here.

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