Israeli military steps up Gaza offensive and masses troops along Gaza border
JERUSALEM (AP) - Israel on Tuesday launched its largest offensive in the Gaza Strip in nearly two years, carrying out a blistering aerial assault on scores of targets and killing 25 people in what officials called an open-ended operation aimed at ending weeks of heavy rocket fire. As Gaza militants unleashed salvos on cities including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Israel mobilized forces along the border for a possible ground invasion.
The offensive set off the heaviest fighting between Israel and the Islamic militant group Hamas since an eight-day battle in November 2012. The militants fired about 160 rockets at Israel, including two intercepted over Tel Aviv, while Israel said it attacked more than 150 sites across Gaza.
Palestinian medics reported at least 25 dead, including six killed in an airstrike that flattened an apartment building in southern Gaza and set off widespread panic.
In a nationally televised statement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said continued rocket attacks on Israeli communities would not be tolerated.
“Therefore I have ordered the military to significantly broaden its operation against Hamas terrorists and against the other terrorist groups inside Gaza,” he said. “I call on you to display patience because this operation could take time.”
Urgently asking $3.7 billion for immigration crisis, Obama heads for Texas - but not border
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama appealed to Congress on Tuesday for $3.7 billion in emergency spending to deal with the immigration crisis on the nation’s southern border, where unaccompanied children have been showing up by the thousands in a human drama that’s causing a political storm in Washington and beyond.
Obama himself was flying to Texas on Wednesday, a trip designed mostly for political fundraising for Democrats but now including a meeting on immigration with religious and local leaders in Dallas. He rejected pressure from Republican Gov. Rick Perry to visit the border for a firsthand look.
In Washington, Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill seemed open to approving the emergency money, which would go toward hiring more immigration judges and asylum officers, building more detention facilities, boosting deterrence and enforcement and increasing surveillance along the border with Mexico. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the Senate would act on it this month.
Obama said in a formal letter of request that the money was needed to “address this urgent humanitarian situation.”
But Senate Democrats voiced skepticism about other changes the White House has said it wants that would send the minors back to Central America more quickly, partly by limiting their existing rights to court hearings. Those proposals, which are not part of Tuesday’s request, have infuriated immigrant advocates who say they would result in harsher treatment of kids and eliminate their legal protections.
Hopes for east Ukraine peace talks look slim as rebels reject gov conditions