U.S.: Israel "Defending Itself" Against Attacks
Following a sharp increase in Palestinian rocket attacks last week, Israel took steps to decrease the threat to its civilians and closed its border crossings with the Gaza Strip. The White House issued a statement supporting Israel's actions, calling it an act of self-defense, Agence France Press reported Tuesday. At the same time, Israel remained committed to maintaining humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, opening crossings to deliver diesel fuel, medicine and food stuffs. Even during the height of the attacks, only the Gaza power plant was affected by the fuel reduction, with remaining power sources continuing to provide 75 percent of Gaza's electricity needs. However, if the attacks continue, a chance remains that Israel will be forced to take military action to defend its citizens.
Rice: Hamas to Blame for Gaza Situation
Secretary of State Condoleezza placed responsibility for the situation in Gaza squarely on the terrorist group Hamas, noting that it has consistently rebuffed international demands to halt terrorism. "Ultimately, Hamas is to blame for this circumstance because if they were more responsible toward the international community, then there would be – Gaza would be connected to the outside world rather than cut off," Rice said on Tuesday in a press briefing en route to Berlin. Rice's statement comes as Hamas intensified its rocket attacks against neighboring Israeli cities, firing some more than 400 rockets in January. In 2007, terrorist groups in Gaza fired more than 1,500 rockets and mortar shells into Israel. Click here to learn more about the threat of Qassam rockets.