TEL AVIV, Israel—The Israeli Air Force began its attack on Hamas targets and infrastructure in the Gaza strip over the weekend, in an operation called “Cast Lead."
Over 40 targets from the Hamas terrorist organization currently in control of Gaza were bombed, including headquarter buildings, ammunition storage houses, and training facilities. The intense attack comes following weeks of Hamas firing rockets into Israeli towns located in the area around Gaza, which started before the cease-fire agreed upon in July had officially ended.
"The handwriting was on the wall for some time," said David Harris, executive director of American Jewish Committee. "Israel had repeatedly warned the Hamas-led regime in Gaza to end the launching of rocket and mortar attacks against Israel or face consequences.”
“Rather than heed the warnings, however, Hamas leaders continued the attacks and taunted Israel to retaliate. Now Israel has—by targeting military and security bases in Gaza," he said. Reuters reported that there were 298 dead as of Sunday evening in Gaza following the attacks. Sunday morning, Hamas began firing more intensively into Israeli towns around Gaza, prompting another round and escalation of air strikes on Hamas targets.
Uncensored videos of the dead in Gaza have been broadcast on a number of global Arab television networks, while Israeli commentators claim this is part of a propaganda move by Hamas to stir up outrage. Hamas has been known to intentionally place its facilities and rocket firing in densely populated civilian areas. An Israeli military spokesperson said in a statement that the operation against terrorist targets may continue and be expanded, according to ongoing evaluation of the situation.
U.S. Representative Illeana Ros-Lehtinen, the ranking Republican from the House Foreign Affairs Committee stated in a press statement that the military response to the Hamas attacks by Israel is an issue of self-defense. “The latest barrage of attacks by these Iranian-sponsored Islamist militants continues a pattern of indiscriminate targeting of innocent men, women, and children in Israel that could not go unanswered. Israel had no choice but to defend itself,” Ros-Lehtinen said.
"The response of our democratic ally, Israel, has been carefully calibrated to halt the rocket fire, aimed at surgically eliminating Hamas militants and the teams that are operating the rockets, while at the same time making every effort to limit civilian casualties in the face of Hamas' callous use of innocent Palestinians as human shields.”
With additional reporting by Joshua Philipp