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White House: Israel Has Right To Defend Itself

3:27 PM, Nov 17, 2012   |    comments
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TEL AVIV, Israel -- The Israeli military says its "Iron Dome" rocket-defense system has shot down an incoming projectile bound for Tel Aviv.

Footage from Associated Press Television News shows a plume of smoke emanating from an Iron Dome battery deployed in Tel Aviv followed by a flash of light overhead as the rocket is intercepted.

People huddled along Tel Aviv's beachfront boardwalk cheered Saturday as the interception took place.

It's the third straight day that Gaza militants have fired rockets at Tel Aviv, Israel's bustling commercial and cultural capital.

Israel says its Iron Dome system has intercepted nearly 250 rockets since a round of fighting broke out on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a health official in Gaza says Israeli strikes today have killed 12 people, including eight militants, and wounded dozens more. Israel's military says it has carried out nearly 200 airstrikes today against more than 800 targets in Gaza.

In all, 42 Palestinians and three Israeli civilians have been killed 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.

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE  -- 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.

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