White House: Israel has right to defend itself

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE (AP) -- The White House says it believes Israel "has the right to defend itself" against attack and that the Israelis will make their own decisions about their "military tactics and operations."

A top aide to President Barack Obama tells reporters traveling with the president to Asia on Air Force One that the U.S. and Israel both want an end to the rocket fire that's coming from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes says Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agree that "de-escalation is preferred," provided that Hamas stops firing into Israel.

Obama has spoken with the leaders of Egypt and Turkey, too.

Rhodes says they "have the ability to play a constructive role in engaging Hamas" and encouraging a de-escalation of the attacks.

ISRAEL-PALESTINIANS

Israel broadens air assault on rocket operations in Gaza; shoots down rocket aimed at Tel Aviv

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- Israel claims to be inflicting heavy damage on Gaza's Hamas rulers, but so far that's failed to slow the rocket fire coming from the Palestinian territory.

The Israeli military says 160 rockets were launched into Israel on Saturday, raising the total number to roughly 500 since this week's fighting began. Two of the rockets fired Saturday were aimed at Tel Aviv. Residents of Israel's the commercial and cultural center cheered, though, as one of its "Iron Dome" defense batteries shot down one rocket.

In return, Israel carried out about 300 airstrikes in Gaza, hitting the prime minister's headquarters and a police compound as well as a network of smuggling tunnels.

A health official in Gaza says Israeli strikes today have killed 12 people, including eight militants, and wounded dozens more. In all, medical officials say 46 Palestinians, including 15 civilians, have been killed and more than 400 civilians wounded. Three Israeli civilians have been killed and more than 50 wounded since the Israel began its military operation Wednesday with the assassination of the ruling Hamas militant group's military chief after days of heavy rocket fire from Gaza.


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