Netanyahu: Israel Prepared For 'Long Operation' In Gaza
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday dismissed international calls for an immediate cease-fire in the country's conflict with Hamas in Gaza.
"We need to be prepared for a long operation until our mission is accomplished," Netanyahu said in televised remarks.
He defined that mission as Israeli officials have since launching a ground offensive in Gaza: taking out the tunnels Hamas uses to infiltrate Israel.
"Israeli citizens cannot live with the threat from rockets and from death tunnels — death from above and from below," Netanyahu said, adding that Israelis would not "end this operation without neutralizing the tunnels, whose sole purpose is killing our citizens."
After a brief lull in fighting to mark a Muslim holiday — and following adoption of a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for an "immediate and unconditional" cease-fire — intense shelling resumed in Gaza on Monday night.
"The Israeli Defense Forces warned residents of neighborhoods in northern Gaza — including Shujai'iya, the scene of some of the most intense fighting in the three-week war — to evacuate immediately, suggesting a major escalation of military action was imminent," the Guardian reports.
Five IDF soldiers were killed Monday in Gaza, bringing Israel's military death toll to 48.
As we reported earlier, more than 1,000 Palestinians have been killed, mostly civilians. Thousands more have been injured.
On the diplomatic front, Obama administration officials pushed back against harsh criticism in Israeli news outlets of Secretary of State John Kerry's efforts to secure a truce. A draft of his cease-fire proposal was leaked to Israeli media.
"It's as if he isn't the foreign minister of the world's most powerful nation, but an alien, who just disembarked his spaceship in the Mideast," wrote diplomatic correspondent Barak Ravid in Haaretz.
Ravid and other mocking commentators took Kerry to task for attempting to bring Qatar and Turkey — viewed in Israel as Hamas allies — into negotiations.
Susan Rice, President Obama's national security adviser, described herself as "dismayed" by the characterizations.
"Our view is it's simply not the way partners and allies treat each other," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
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