Meridian Star

New Today

November 17, 2012

White House: Israel has right to defend itself

AIR FORCE ONE — ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE (AP) — The White House on Saturday defended Israel's right to defend itself against attack and decide how to respond to rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, blaming the ruling Islamic militant Hamas group for starting the conflict.

Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are in agreement that a de-escalation of the violence is preferred, provided that Hamas stops sending rocket into Israel, deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters during the president's flight on Air Force One to Asia.

Israel launched the offensive on Wednesday by assassinating Hamas' military commander, but Rhodes said the U.S. believes "the precipitating factor for the conflict was the rocket fire coming out of Gaza. We believe Israel has a right to defend itself, and they'll make their own decisions about the tactics they use in that regard."

He added, "These rockets have been fired into Israeli civilian areas and territory for some time now. So Israelis have endured far too much of a threat from these rockets for far too long, and that is what led the Israelis to take the action that they did in Gaza."

The Israeli government has called up thousands of reservists and massed troops, tanks and other armored vehicles along the border with Gaza, signaling a ground invasion could be imminent.

Obama has spoken with President Mohammed Morsi of Egypt and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey about the situation.

"They have the ability to play a constructive role in engaging Hamas and encouraging a process of de-escalation," Rhodes said.

Israel on Saturday hit Gaza with nearly 200 airstrikes, expanding an aerial assault to include the prime minister's headquarters, a police compound and a vast network of smuggling tunnels.

"We wouldn't comment on specific targeting choices by the Israelis other than to say that we of course always underscore the importance of avoiding civilian casualties," Rhodes said. "But the Israelis again will make judgments about their military operations."

Forty-two Palestinians, including 13 civilians, and three Israelis have been killed in this past week's fighting.

 

1
Text Only
New Today
Biz Marquee
New Today
Poll

On Tuesday, Gov. Phil Bryant signed the first pay raise for all teachers in the state since 2007. Do you think the pay raise was needed?

Yes
No
     View Results
Facebook
Facebook
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Bon Jovi Helps Open Low-income Housing in Philly Pipeline Opponents Protest on National Mall Hagel Gets Preview of New High-tech Projects S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart New Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees Named 'Piles' of Bodies in South Sudan Slaughter New Yorkers Celebrate Cherry Blossom Blooms SCOTUS Hears Tv-over-Internet Case Justice Dept. Broadening Criteria for Clemency Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers 'Miss Meadows' Takes Holmes Back to Her Roots Biden: Russia Must Stop Talking, Start Acting David Moyes Out As Manchester United Manager Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet Stowaway Teen Forces Review of Airport Security
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide