Arts, Culture & Media

Violence Escalates Between Israel and Gaza

It's a familiar pattern.

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Israel accused Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip of carrying out attacks on Thursday that killed eight Israelis. In response, Israel launched air strikes against Gaza. On Friday, militants in Gaza fired a dozen rockets into Israel.

There's no reason to think the retaliation attacks will end there.

Most of the rockets fired early Friday landed in open areas. But two of them hit the Israeli port city of Ashdod, about 20 miles north of the Gaza Strip.

The caretaker at a Jewish temple swept up piles of tiny glass shards. Windows up to the third story shattered when a rocket hit a couple of hundred yards away early Friday.

"When I got there, it was chaos," said, an emergency medical technician, who was one of the first on the scene, who didn't want to give his name. "People were yelling and screaming. One man had an entry wound in his abdomen. But then we turned him over and saw a much bigger exit wound in his back. Six people were wounded in all and one of them seriously."

Given what he'd just seen, the medic said what he really wanted was for the state to make the violence stop. So far, he said, he's not at all satisfied with Israel's military response.

Police cordoned off the site of a second rocket strike. It was a direct hit on small synagogue. But the weapon failed to explode. City security chief Areyeh Itach said this could have been a very bloody scene.

"The synagogue get one rocket — katushya — inside," he said. "And anyone don't hurt from the rocket because all the people that pray and finish the pray and go out from the synagogue and the rocket fell down inside and it's a miracle for us."

It was really a miracle for Israel Albert. The father of six was still inside the building when the rocket smashed through roof. He said he feels today was supposed to be his funeral.

"God does help," Albert said. "God saved me from the hands of evil people who wanted to kill someone even though he did nothing wrong."

Albert said he'd been given a second chance on life. And he plans to use the opportunity to serve God.

Palestinian women in the Gaza Strip Friday wept at the funeral for a child killed in an Israeli air strike overnight.

At least seven Palestinians were killed according to sources in Gaza. Among them was the leader of a militant group that Israel accuses of planning Thursday's deadly attack in southern Israel.

The group denied responsibility, according to the Reuters news agency. But a man identified as spokesman of the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees made it clear how the group plans to respond.

Speaking to the camera in a black mask and camouflage jacket, he said, "the Palestinian faction's leaders have been assassinated and that absolves the group from a declared truce in Gaza. The Zionist enemy started the battle, he said. And the faction will fight to take back all stolen Palestinian land."

Hamas has also denied responsibility for Thursday's attack in Israel. But Hamas legislator Mosheer Al-Masri from Gaza issued this warning.

"The Israeli occupiers should not commit any new acts of stupidity against the Palestinians," he said. "As long as there is occupation, there will be resistance, he said. And Hamas people will be the first to defend against any aggression against Gaza."

Tensions between Israel and Egypt took a turn for the worse Friday. Egyptian state TV reported that the government has made a formal complaint with Israel over the deaths of three Egyptian officers in the Sinai.

Egyptian security sources are reportedly saying the three officers were killed by Israeli aircraft fire on the Egyptian side of the border.

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    Israeli bus targeted by attackers (Photo: BBC)

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    Israeli authorities go to work at a synagogue in Ashdod where a rocket landed but did not explode. (photo: Alon Tuval)

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    Israeli authorities go to work at a synagogue in Ashdod where a rocket landed but did not explode. (photo: Alon Tuval)

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    Israeli authorities go to work at a synagogue in Ashdod where a rocket landed but did not explode. (photo: Alon Tuval)

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    Palestinians look over rubble after Israeli strike. (Photo: BCC)