Israel hits Hamas buildings, shoots down Tel Aviv-bound rocket

Sat Nov 17, 2012 1:46pm EST
 
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By Nidal al-Mughrabi and Jeffrey Heller

GAZA/JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli aircraft bombed Hamas government buildings in Gaza, and the "Iron Dome" defense system shot down a Tel Aviv-bound rocket on Saturday as Israel geared up for a possible ground invasion.

Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that runs the Gaza Strip, said Israeli missiles wrecked the office building of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh - where he had met on Friday with the Egyptian prime minister - and struck a police headquarters.

Along the Tel Aviv beachfront, volleyball games came to an abrupt halt and people crouched as sirens sounded. Two interceptor rockets streaked into the sky. A flash and an explosion followed as Iron Dome, deployed only hours earlier near the city, destroyed the incoming projectile in mid-air.

With Israeli tanks and artillery positioned along the Gaza border and no end in sight to hostilities now in their fourth day, Tunisia's foreign minister travelled to the enclave in a show of Arab solidarity.

In Cairo, a presidential source said Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi would hold four-way talks with the Qatari emir, the prime minister of Turkey and Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal in the Egyptian capital on Saturday to discuss the Gaza crisis.

Egypt has been working to reinstate calm between Israel and Hamas after an informal ceasefire brokered by Cairo unraveled over the past few weeks. Meshaal, who lives in exile, has already held a round of talks with Egyptian security officials.

Officials in Gaza said 43 Palestinians, nearly half of them civilians including eight children, had been killed since Israel began its air strikes. Three Israeli civilians were killed by a rocket on Thursday.

Israel unleashed its massive air campaign on Wednesday with the declared goal of deterring Hamas from launching rockets that have plagued its southern communities for years.   Continued...

 
Israeli soldiers watch as an Iron Dome launcher fires an interceptor rocket near the southern city of Beersheba November 17, 2012. REUTERS/Nir Elias