Conflict escalates between Israel and Palestinian militants

By Karin Laub and Ibrahim Barzak

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Nov. 15 2012 9:10 p.m. MST

The White House came out in support of Israel on Thursday, with spokesman Jay Carney saying there is "no justification" for rocket fire from Gaza and urging militants to stop "cowardly acts."

However, the regional constellation has changed dramatically since the last Gaza war. Hamas has emerged from its political isolation as its parent movement, the region-wide Muslim Brotherhood, rose to power in several countries in the wake of last year's Arab Spring uprisings, particularly in Egypt.

On Thursday, the Egyptian president ordered his prime minister, Hesham Kandil, to lead a senior delegation to Gaza on Friday in a show of support for Hamas. Morsi has called Israel's campaign against Hamas "unacceptable" and has recalled Egypt's ambassador to Israel in protest.

Conflict at a glance

Militants in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip killed three Israeli civilians on Thursday in a rocket attack on a residential area.

The Israeli military has killed 19 Palestinians, both militants and civilians, in Gaza since the operation started Wednesday.

The Israeli military says it has hit more than 340 targets since the offensive began.

It also says Gaza militants fired around 450 rockets at Israel since the start of the operation. Three rockets targeted the densely populated Tel Aviv area.

Israel says its Iron Dome missile defense system has intercepted about 130 of those rockets.

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