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Israel Widens Air Assault On Gaza Rocket Operations
Originally published on Sun November 18, 2012 8:30 am
GUY RAZ, HOST:
It's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.
Intensive diplomatic efforts are under way in the Middle East to broker a truce between Israel and Hamas. Those efforts haven't stopped the two sides from escalating their attacks. And if the diplomacy fails, Israel could decide to invade Gaza. NPR's Anthony Kuhn joins us now from Gaza with the latest. Anthony, what's been happening today so far?
ANTHONY KUHN, BYLINE: Well, we've been hearing incoming bombs and outgoing missiles until just a few minutes ago. It was reported that Israeli missile defenses shot down another rocket over Tel Aviv. Israel says that attacks on major population centers, such as Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, could be the trigger for an invasion of Gaza. At the same time, Israeli warplanes have been targeting more Hamas leaders.
Overnight, they destroyed the office of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. They haven't killed any of them yet or at least not since they killed the Hamas military commander, Ahmed al-Jabari, on Wednesday. At the same time, Israel has made a lot of preparations to invade Gaza, and it now appears that time for a cease-fire may be running out.
RAZ: Can you explain some of the diplomatic efforts under way?
KUHN: Yes. They're very fast-moving, but the central event today was that the leader of Hamas, Khaled Mashaal, met with the head of Egyptian intelligence in Cairo. Mashaal reportedly listed concrete conditions, which, if Israel agrees to, could lead to Hamas to agree to a cease-fire. After that, there was supposed to be a four-way meeting in Cairo between Egypt, Qatar, Turkey and Hamas.
Also, the Arab League is considering sending a delegation to Gaza to mediate in this situation. And Israel, at the same time, is doing lobbying of its own, mostly to convince foreign governments, including the U.S., to support any military action that it may take.
RAZ: You mentioned that Hamas listed concrete conditions. What are those conditions?
KUHN: Well, these reports have not been confirmed, but it's generally known that they want Israel to stop assassinating its top leaders, and they also want some easing of the blockade around them, which would require, for example, Egypt to open all the border crossings and allow goods and fuel into the Gaza Strip.
RAZ: Anthony, Israel has not said whether it will invade Gaza, and I take it there is some debate about this inside Israel.
KUHN: Yes, there is debate, Guy, because all of the options available to Israel have some drawbacks. If they go as far as actually occupying Gaza and directly ruling, they would be essentially killing off a two-state solution. If they completely topple Hamas, they would be leaving a power vacuum, which could be dangerous, and more militant groups could enter. Or if they do what they did in the last incursion into Gaza more than three years ago, they would essentially be hitting Hamas very hard, but still leaving them there to rebuild and attack again later. And that's why there have been opposition voices calling for the government to present some sort of exit strategy if they do go in.
RAZ: That's Anthony Kuhn reporting from Gaza. Anthony, thanks.
KUHN: Thank you, Guy. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.