Israel ramps up military response to attack by Gaza militants
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
It is a day of violence and fear in Israel. Palestinian Hamas militants launched a surprise attack beginning at 6:30 in the morning local time. The attack came from land and sea and from the sky with a barrage of rocket fire. Unprecedented in its scale, in the words of NPR's Daniel Estrin in Israel, over 2,000 rockets were fired from Gaza into southern and central Israel. There are images of smoking buildings, burned-out cars, Israeli warplanes mobilizing and people running in search of shelter and safety.
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PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: (Speaking Hebrew).
SIMON: "Citizens of Israel, we are at war," said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a video taped in front of Israel's military headquarters. Mohammed Deif, a top Hamas militant commander, issued a statement calling for a regional war. He said the attacks were in response to Israeli, quote, "desecration" of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. It is a site also revered by Jews as the Temple Mount, which Jewish religious ultranationalists visited in recent days. We will have the very latest on the strikes in Israel at npr.org and throughout the show today, including reports from NPR correspondents Daniel Estrin in Tel Aviv and Aya Batrawy in Dubai on reaction from the region.
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