North Korea

North Korea
The always bombastic and unpredictable North Koreans go hysterical again. This time the country is prepared to "go to war" with South Korea because that country is playing loudspeakers directed at North Korean territory. A headline from a UK paper reads, "More than 50 North Korea submarines 'leave their bases' as war talks with South continue "

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip enter deadly conflict

In just a few days time, a small number of rockets originating from the Gaza strip and fired into Southern Israel has escalated into the retaliatory killing of the Hamas military chief, three Israeli civilians and 13 Palestinians dead, dozens more wounded, hundreds of missiles with at least one reaching Tel Aviv for the first time, and Israel calling up 30,000 reservists for what could be a major offensive into the Palestinian enclave.

The quick rise in the seriousness of the action underscores the volatility of the borders between Israel and Gaza, and the general wariness of the Israelis as the military also fired into Syria in response to a stray mortar hitting an IDF army post.

Israel back in the news with retaliatory attacks in both Syria and the Gaza Strip

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Trails of smoke from rockets fired from Gaza into Israel

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Israel has batteries of anti-rocket missiles as part of its "Iron Dome" defense network. Such an anti-rocket missile is launched here with accuracy, though the sheer number of rockets from Gaza have allowed dozens through ...

Rockets fired from the Gaza Strip are increasingly capable of longer and more accurate targeting - some weapons having come from the recent civil war in Libya, others directly from Iran. The coastal Israeli city of Tel aviv has been targeted, as has Jerusalem though in that case the rocket was intercepted by an Iron Dome defense missile.

The erupting conflict is set against a background of the continuing bloody conflict in Syria - where dozens are killed every day, over a million Syrians displaced, and Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey increasingly drawn into the civil war.

What a mess.

It demonstrates the difficulty of the UN in dealing with any Middle East tension, and represents a great challenge to Egypt, in how to respond to Hamas and associate militants while maintaining a cold peace with Israel.

A few more details on the Israeli offensive which represents the largest wildcard - how deep, how extensive, and how deadly will it be.

From CBS news, "Waves of airstrikes on more than 100 militant targets quickly followed the assassination of Hamas mastermind Ahmed Jabari. The air attacks continued steadily into the early hours Thursday, targeting the armed group's training facilities and rocket launchers in Israel's most intense attack on the territory since its full-scale war there four years ago.

Tank shells and naval gunfire backed up the air onslaught. Few in the territory's largest urban area, Gaza City, heeded the call for dawn prayers, and the only vehicles plying the streets were ambulances and media cars.

In Washington, the United States lined up behind Israel. "We support Israel's right to defend itself, and we encourage Israel to continue to take every effort to avoid civilian casualties," said a State Department spokesman.

School was canceled within a 25-mile radius of Gaza. People living in areas hugging the frontier were ordered to stay home from work, save for essential services, and shopping centers were shut down. Israeli police stepped up patrols around the country, fearing Hamas could retaliate with bombing attacks far from the reaches of Gaza.

Israel said the airstrikes Wednesday were the beginning of a broader operation against the Islamic militants. They also said a ground operation was a strong possibility in the coming days if Hamas didn't take steps to rein in the rocket fire.

The Israeli military says it has destroyed dozens of the militants' most potent rockets -- the Iranian-made Fajr, which is capable of striking Israel's Tel Aviv heartland -- as well as shorter-range rockets.

In all, the military estimates Hamas had 10,000 rockets and mortars in its arsenal before the military operation began.

In a nationwide address, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said Israel could no longer stand repeated attacks on its southern towns. Days of rocket fire have heavily disrupted life for some 1 million people in the region, canceling school and forcing residents to remain indoors.

The tragedy of war

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BBC journalist Jihad Masharawi weeps while he holds the body of his 11-month old son Omar, at Shifa hospital, killed by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza.

An injured Israeli baby is held by a security officer inside an ambulance at the scene where a rocket, fired from Gaza, landed in the southern city of Kiryat Malachi

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