JERUSALEM (AP) — Palestinian medical officials now say at least 19 Palestinians, including three children, have been killed in Israeli air and sea attacks today on the Gaza Strip. The attacks struck more than 100 locations.
The Israelis are responding to continued rocket fire from that area. Two rocket attacks targeted Tel Aviv today, but both were intercepted by Israel's missile defense system. Air raid sirens were also heard in Jerusalem. A TV station says a rocket hit a house near there, but there were no injuries.
Israel's military says it's begun an open-ended offensive in the Gaza Strip aimed at striking a blow against the Hamas rulers there. A cabinet official told Israeli TV that the offensive "will take time." And he added that if Israel needs to launch a ground operation in Gaza, it will do so.
Israeli officials say the government has authorized the army to mobilize an additional 40,000 troops, if needed, for the operation. By nightfall, the army said it had mobilized half of the forces, in addition to 1,500 reservists who were activated earlier.
Tensions have been high since three Israeli teens were kidnapped June 12 in the West Bank and were later found dead. That was followed by last week's slaying of a Palestinian youth.
227-a-15-(Josh Earnest, White House press secretary, at news conference)-"these vicious attacks"-White House press secretary Josh Earnest says the U.S. backs Israel's right of self-defense in the face of the Hamas rocket barrage. (8 Jul 2014)
<<CUT *227 (07/08/14)££ 00:15 "these vicious attacks"
201-r-22-(Sound of sirens and muffled recorded warning, as people rushed to take shelter)--Sound of sirens and a muffled recorded warning for people to seek shelter. (8 Jul 2014)
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199-a-17-(Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner, spokesman, Israel Defense Forces, in AP interview)-"the unfortunate result"-Peter Lerner of the Israeli Defense Forces says they wanted to avoid civilian casualties before firing on a position that left Palestinian civilians, including children, dead. (8 Jul 2014)
<<CUT *199 (07/08/14)££ 00:17 "the unfortunate result"
APPHOTO DV114: Smoke and a ball of fire rises after an Israeli missile strike in Beit Lahia, northern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, July 8, 2014. The Israeli military launched what could be a long-term offensive against the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Tuesday, striking nearly 100 sites in Gaza and mobilizing troops for a possible ground invasion aimed at stopping a heavy barrage of rocket attacks against Israel. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on Israel to halt the airstrikes immediately and appealed for calm, however he has little influence over a Gaza Strip that is ruled by Hamas militants who violently overthrew forces loyal to him in 2007. Smaller and more radical forces than Hamas are also involved in rocket fire from Gaza. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa) (8 Jul 2014)
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