A Hamas rocket landed on a suburb of Jerusalem on Friday, as the conflict between Israel and Hamas intensifies. Anchor Aaron Schachter gets details from The World’s Matthew Bell in Jerusalem.
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Aaron Schachter: I am Aaron Schachter; this is The World. The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians reached Jerusalem today. A rocket fired from the Gaza strip flew about 45 miles to hit a settlement just south of the city. There are no reports of casualties, but sirens wailed across the Holy City and sent people scurrying for cover. The World’s Matthew Bell in Jerusalem says it’s the first rocket attack on the city since 1970.
Matthew Bell: This is a big deal. It’s no surprise that militants in Gaza have rockets with that kind of range, but it is a surprise to a lot of people that they would be fired at Jerusalem which Israel considers its capital. It’s also where the third holiest Muslim site is in the world.
Schachter: The Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock. This is something that even Saddam Hussein did not do in 1991 – target Jerusalem. How are people there reacting? Shocked, frightened, blasÃ©?
Bell: I think a lot of people are surprised, Aaron. Of course, this is a place that’s been hit with terrorist attacks before. I was in Tel Aviv this afternoon when this happened and I saw the news first on Twitter and, of course, the first thing I did was call my wife who was back here in Jerusalem where I am now. I got on the phone with her and she told me that she was with our kids in the park when they heard the siren go off. Another woman in the park said, “Oh, don’t worry, it’s just the Shabbat siren” (which goes off on Friday evenings to signal the beginning of the Sabbath). But then, another woman said, “No, no, no. It’s not the Shabbat siren.” Then, my wife realized it wasn’t, so she got the kids as quickly as she could and started coming back to the house. Before they got back, they could hear the boom. She said it was clearly scary and there was a sense in the park of just real confusion about what to do because this has never happened before. At the same time, my wife said that there were several people that just sat there and continued with their late afternoon lunch as if nothing was happening.
Schachter: Now, this comes a day after Hamas hit the Tel Aviv region which is why you were in Tel Aviv this afternoon. Surely, this means an escalation by Israel; they have to respond in kind. Any idea what’s in the works?
Bell: That’s expected. The news that’s come in late today is that the Defense Ministry is evidently calling up 75,000 reservists. I think that sends a message. There are reports that there are troops and armor and equipment moving toward the border with Gaza. That doesn’t mean that Israel wants to launch the kind of ground incursion that it did 4 years ago in to the Gaza strip. But, I talked to some security experts today who said the wheel starts turning and, in some ways, the effort to send a message to the other side that Israel is willing to put troops on the ground and go back into Gaza could be a self-fulfilling prophecy in some ways. Even if Israel doesn’t want to do it, they could end up getting sucked into that kind of conflict.
Schachter: The World’s Matthew Bell in Jerusalem.
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