WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — President Barack Obama has reportedly not spoken to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since violence flared up between Israel and Hamas this past week.
The Times of Israel reports that the Israeli prime minister has spoken with Secretary of State John Kerry, but has yet to have a conversation with Obama or Mideast adviser to the White House Philip Gordon.
“Gordon met with his opposite numbers from the Israeli national security team,” an official from the prime minister’s office told The Times of Israel.
Gordon was in Israel and the West Bank earlier this week and met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
The Times of Israel reports that Netanyahu has spoken with British Prime Minister David Cameron, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Israel dramatically escalated its aerial assault in Gaza Thursday hitting hundreds of Hamas targets, as Palestinians reported 16 people killed in strikes that hit a home and a beachside cafe and Israel’s missile defense system once again intercepted rockets fired by militants at the country’s heartland.
Military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said Israel struck more than 320 Hamas targets overnight, focusing on underground tunnel networks and rocket launching sites. That brought the total number of targets hit to 750 in three days of the massive offensive that has killed at least 80 Palestinians.
CBS News reports that a family of eight was mistakenly killed in the airstrikes. Gaza residents were holding funerals for the victims Thursday morning.
Lerner said Israel has already mobilized 20,000 reservists for a possible ground operation into Gaza, but for the time being Israel remained focused on maximizing its air campaign. A ground invasion could lead to heavy civilian casualties on the Palestinian side while putting Israeli ground forces in danger.
Neither side is showing any sign of halting their heaviest fighting since an eight-day battle in late 2012. Israel says that Hamas must cease rocket fire from Gaza for Israel to consider a truce. Militants have fired hundreds of rockets, striking across the length of Israel and disrupting life across the country. No one has been seriously harmed as the “Iron Dome” defense system has intercepted at least 70 of the projectiles destined for major population centers.
The Health Ministry in Gaza has reported 81 deaths thus far, saying about half were women and children though the exact breakdown remains unclear.
Israel accuses militants of deliberately endangering civilians by using homes and other civilian buildings for cover.
The military has also directly targeted the offices and homes of known militants that it says are used as command centers. The military typically contacts the families first to ask civilians to evacuate before striking its targets.
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