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July 11th, 2014
04:41 AM ET

Striking Gaza Could Buy Israel Peace For a Year, Maybe More, Analysts say

The dark curtain rises again on the tragedy of Israel and Gaza, and the next act begins much like its forerunners.

Rockets hunt humans. Bombs crush buildings. Blood spills. The dead ride in caskets through streets, and mothers wail their grief to the heavens.

As Israeli reserves gather like a storm over Gaza's horizon, the added bloodshed of an incursion appears imminent, and millions watching around the world ask: What could they hope to achieve?

There is no dramatic endgame in this, but there are concrete objectives, says Israeli military analyst and columnist Ron Ben-Yishai.

There are official ones and unofficial ones, short-term and long-term, that make sense for Israel, he argues.

Many of them will work, concedes critical Israeli columnist Gideon Levy. But he disagrees about their wisdom.

They won't cure the disease but instead feed it, he argues.

Military objective No. 1
First, the conservative government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants to stop the rocket fire by force.

And weaken the Hamas militants and other groups behind it, Ben-Yishai says.

"Erode the political clout and the ability of Hamas to act both as a political and military-terrorist movement."

Those are the official goals given by the Cabinet for the military operation named Protective Edge, he says. And they'll probably be achieved, Ben-Yishai says.

"For the short-run, no doubt," Levy concurs. But he also thinks Hamas will come back stronger militarily and politically.

That's what happened over two years ago in operation Pillar of Defense and over five years ago in Operation Cast Lead, he says.

In the latter, 1,300 Palestinians and more than a dozen Israelis died.

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Filed under: Gaza • Israel
July 10th, 2014
04:23 AM ET

New Wave of Israeli Airstrikes Hammers Gaza

A new wave of Israeli airstrikes battered areas of Gaza early Thursday, continuing the deadly onslaught aimed at stopping militant rocket fire into Israel.

The days-long aerial bombardment of Gaza has killed 76 Palestinians, including women and children, and injured more than 500 since it began Monday, Palestinian officials said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the offensive would be expanded and continue "until the firing at our communities stops and quiet is restored."

But there was no sign that Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza were backing down as rockets continued to streak over the border into southern Israel. No Israelis have been killed so far in the rocket attacks.

Some Israeli officials have hinted at the possibility of a ground offensive in Gaza, although questions remain about the government's appetite for such a conflict.

Netanyahu didn't specify what the expansion of the current operation, which began Monday, would entail, but he said Israel's military "is prepared for all possibilities."

Ground offensive?

President Shimon Peres, whose role is largely ceremonial and is not involved in setting policy, said in an exclusive interview with CNN's Becky Anderson that he believed a ground offensive "may happen quite soon" unless Hamas stops firing rockets at Israel.

"We warned them. We asked them to stop it," Peres told Anderson. "We waited one day, two days, three days and they continued, and they spread their fire on more areas in Israel."

While Peres was speaking on his own and his position may not outline an official government policy, Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz earlier told CNN that a ground operation "might become necessary."

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, meanwhile, convened an emergency meeting of his cabinet on Wednesday to discuss the crisis.

"This war is not against Hamas or another political party but it is against the Palestinian people," he told the media afterward. "What do you call this crime? What is this crime known under international law? To kill entire families, is this collective punishment?

"This is called collective genocide."

A Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, said Israel's threat to launch a "stupid" ground offensive didn't scare anyone, and fighters from Hamas' military wing were ready to face off with Israel's "coward" soldiers in Gaza.

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Filed under: Gaza • Israel
July 9th, 2014
04:49 AM ET

Israel: Ground Operation 'Might Become Necessary'

As rockets and missiles fly back and forth between Gaza and Israel, the Israeli military - saying it doesn't expect the crisis to resolve itself soon - is preparing for a ground incursion.

Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz told CNN such an operation "might become necessary," and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said the security operation against the militant group Hamas "will probably not end within several days."

On Tuesday, the Israeli Cabinet gave the authorization for the military to call up 40,000 troops if needed, 10,000 more than were called up during Israel's offensive into Gaza in November of 2012. Only about 1,000 have been called up so far.

"I hope ... that it's not going to escalate into an all-out war," said Maen Rashid Areikat, the Palestinian representative to the United States. "For the Israelis, they have to know that there's no military solution to this problem."

Still, recent days have brought a dramatic escalation in the conflict.

Militants fired more than 130 rockets at Israeli civilians, Israel said Tuesday. Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it targeted about 160 "terror sites" in Gaza in the early hours of Wednesday, after carrying out 150 airstrikes the day before.

"Overnight, terror organizations in the Gaza Strip suffered a severe blow, as the numerous IDF strikes in Gaza managed to significantly impair terrorist capabilities and prevent possible schemes against Israelis," said Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a military spokesman.

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Filed under: Gaza • Israel • Mideast
July 8th, 2014
04:30 AM ET

Israel Ramps Up Strikes Against Hamas

An Israeli security operation against the militant group Hamas "will probably not end within several days," Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Tuesday.

The development appeared to confirm fears that the conflict would continue to escalate.

"We will not tolerate rocket fire and we are prepared to expand the operation and to exact a heavy toll on Hamas," he said.

Overnight, Israel ramped up its airstrikes on Hamas in Gaza.

The Israeli military's Operation Protective Edge against Hamas has entered a "substantial phase," with airstrikes hitting around 50 targets, including militant houses and military compounds, Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told CNN.

"We are determined to restore a state of security," he said.

Hamas security sources reported at least 60 Israeli airstrikes across Gaza, including from F-16s, Apache helicopters and drones. The sources said at least 10 people were wounded.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called on Israel to immediately stop its strikes, warning the operation would drag the region into instability.

Abbas said a truce was needed to "spare the innocent from mass destruction."

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Filed under: Israel
July 7th, 2014
04:50 AM ET

Netanyahu: 'The Murder of Your Son is Abhorrent'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday spoke with the father of the Palestinian teenager who was burned alive in Jerusalem last week, expressing shock at what he called an "abhorrent" murder.

As anger continues to boil over the killing of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khedair, Netanyahu spoke by phone with the father, Hussein Abu Khedair, telling him that the killers will be brought to trial and "will be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law."

Police have arrested several Israeli Jewish suspects in connection with the killing. They said there was a "strong indication" that the attackers may have been motivated by a desire for revenge over the deaths of three Israeli teenagers, whose bodies were found a week ago in a field in the West Bank.

In a region that has experienced decades of fighting and mistrust, the past week's events have still managed to shock - and to further embitter relations between Israelis and Palestinians.

"The murder of your son is abhorrent and cannot be countenanced by any human being," Netanyahu told the teenager's father on Monday.

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Happy Independence Day!
July 4th, 2014
12:25 PM ET

Happy Independence Day!

What are you doing to celebrate this holiday weekend?

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Filed under: Fourth of July
July 3rd, 2014
04:22 AM ET

Hurricane Arthur's Greatest Threat May be Rip Currents

Canceled. Rescheduled. As Arthur, now a Category 1 hurricane, gyrates up the East Coast, beachfront Fourth of July celebrations are falling flat, and that could save lives.

The Atlantic storm graduated from a tropical storm to a hurricane early Thursday, the National Weather Service said. It's maximum sustained wind speeds have reached 75 mph, as it grinds towards the shoreline of North Carolina.

Even if Arthur goes down in weather history as a softie of a cyclone, it may have some lethal tricks up its sleeve.

Death in the surf

After it has finished its pass of North Carolina by the end of Thursday, it could still leave a danger lurking beneath the surf: Rip currents.

Anyone in North Carolina should stay out of the water, CNN meteorologist Chad Myers warns.

"There's no time for you to react. That's why you can't be there at all," Myers said. "This is not a landfall-problem hurricane. This is a rip-current-problem hurricane," he said.

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Filed under: Arthur
July 2nd, 2014
04:23 AM ET

Hurricane Arthur May Make 4th of July Holiday Driving Hazardous

If you're planning on traveling over the Fourth of July to the East Coast, watch out for Arthur.

The first named tropical storm of the season may make driving hazardous on Wednesday and Thursday but should not spoil most of Friday's festivities, as it veers away from land.

Arthur looks like it will spare the colossal fireworks show on Washington's National Mall, weather forecasters say, whisking past the day before.

The storm is expected to morph into a Category 1 hurricane on Thursday, farther south off the coast of North Carolina, with top wind speeds of 75 mph.

But it is predicted to track north of the capital and off to the east in time for Washington's show.

If predictions turn out to be off by a day, the nation could get live television coverage of the season's first hurricane.

PBS is planning to broadcast the pyrotechnics blossoming over the Reflecting Pool live via 20 cameras.

Storm clouds on Arthur's coattails might throw rain on the Independence Day parade around noon on Friday. There's a 30% chance, the National Weather Service said.

But after sundown, the skies should be mostly clear and cool. Most of the East Coast should share in the good conditions late Friday.

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Filed under: Tropical Storm Arthur
July 1st, 2014
04:33 AM ET

Israel Hits Back After Teens Found Dead

Nineteen days ago, three Israeli teenagers, trying to hitchhike home from the southern West Bank, disappeared.

Monday afternoon, volunteers from a nearby Israeli settlement discovered their bodies in an open field not far from Hebron, a city in the southern West Bank.

The teens' disappearance - which Israel blamed on Hamas - had already worsened relations between Israel and the Palestinians.

The discovery threatens to make it worse.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the students had been "murdered in cold blood" by people he described as "animals."

"Hamas will pay," Netanyahu warned.

Hamas, the militant fundamentalist Islamic organization that operates in the West Bank and Gaza, denied it was behind the abductions.

If Netanyahu "brings a war on Gaza," the group warned, "the gates of hell will open to him."

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Filed under: Hamas • Israel
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