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In Israel And Gaza Strip: More Explosions, Deaths On Both Sides

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Update at 1:30 p.m. ET. Firing Continues:

"Intensive fire" has continued through the day across the border of Israel and the Gaza Strip, correspondent Linda Gradstein, who is in Jerusalem, tells our Newscast Desk.

Hamas has now fired more than 130 rockets toward southern Israel and the Israeli military continues to fire at targets in Gaza. Palestinian officials report at least 13 deaths on their side of the border. The death toll in Israel remains at three.

White House spokesman Jay Carney today told reporters that:

"We strongly condemn the barrage of rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, and we regret the death and injury of innocent Israeli and Palestinian civilians caused by the ensuing violence. There is no justification for the violence that Hamas and other terrorist organizations are employing against the people of Israel. We call on those responsible to stop these cowardly acts immediately in order to allow the situation to deescalate. ...

"President Obama spoke yesterday with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Egyptian President Morsi. In both conversations, the President reiterated the United States' support for Israel's right to self-defense. President Obama also urged Prime Minister Netanyahu to make every effort to avoid civilian casualties. ...

"Hamas claims to have the best interest of the Palestinian people at heart, yet it continues to engage in violence that is counterproductive to the Palestinian cause. Attacking Israel on a near daily basis does nothing to help Palestinians in Gaza or to move the Palestinian people any close to achieving self-determination."

Our original post and an earlier update:

Explosions continue to rock the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip as Israeli forces strike targets for the second day, NPR's Anthony Kuhn reported earlier this morning from Gaza City.

The death toll there from two days of airstrikes has risen to at least 11, according to The Associated Press. Among those killed was Ahmed Jabari, the commander of Hamas' military wing.

On the other side, three Israelis were killed today by a rocket fired from Gaza. As Anthony said on Morning Edition, hundreds of rockets have been shot into Israel from Gaza since Saturday. The Israeli Defense Forces' operation "Pillar of Defense" is a response to those attacks.

Reuters writes that the "military showdown lurched closer to all-out war" today. NBC News takes a similar view:

"Israel has called up army reserves, the standing army is poised for a ground invasion of Gaza, the air force and navy is attacking a list of specified targets, mostly Hamas fighters and weapons facilities. All is set for war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza."

Asked earlier today by NPR's Linda Wertheimer if there are any signs that either side is "prepared to talk about backing this down," Anthony noted that before Wednesday there were "reports that Egypt had brokered a ceasefire." Then, Hamas claimed Israel had violated the agreement and wasn't committed to a ceasefire. Now, he said, "people are looking to see ... [if Hamas uses its] most potent missiles. If they strike at large population centers ... that would certainly provoke a tough response."

Egypt has recalled its ambassador from Israel and condemned the Israeli strikes.

Update at 10:15 a.m. ET. Rocket Reportedly Lands Near Tel Aviv.

This Associated Press bulletin just crossed the wire: "Israeli army: Rocket strikes southern suburb of Tel Aviv, no injuries."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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