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Israel ramps up military response to attack by Gaza militants

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

It is a day of violence and fear in Israel. Palestinian Hamas militants launched a surprise attack beginning at 6:30 in the morning local time. The attack came from land and sea and from the sky with a barrage of rocket fire. Unprecedented in its scale, in the words of NPR's Daniel Estrin in Israel, over 2,000 rockets were fired from Gaza into southern and central Israel. There are images of smoking buildings, burned-out cars, Israeli warplanes mobilizing and people running in search of shelter and safety.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: (Speaking Hebrew).

SIMON: "Citizens of Israel, we are at war," said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a video taped in front of Israel's military headquarters. Mohammed Deif, a top Hamas militant commander, issued a statement calling for a regional war. He said the attacks were in response to Israeli, quote, "desecration" of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. It is a site also revered by Jews as the Temple Mount, which Jewish religious ultranationalists visited in recent days. We will have the very latest on the strikes in Israel at npr.org and throughout the show today, including reports from NPR correspondents Daniel Estrin in Tel Aviv and Aya Batrawy in Dubai on reaction from the region.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
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