Israel Launches Gaza Offensive

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Israel has launched an offensive into Gaza, killing a military commander for the ruling Hamas, according to Reuters .

Though Egypt had tried to mediate a truce between the groups, Palestinian rocket attacks had been striking Israel for five days.

Here's the latest information on the offensive.

* Ahmed Al-Jaabari was killed in a surgical strike on his vehicle moments before explosions erupted in Gaza. Jaabari, the leader of Hamas' armed wing Izz el-Deen Al-Qassam, died with a Hamas photographer by an Israeli missile.

* Israeli army tanks shelled Gaza border areas, air force struck at selected targets, and the navy shelled Hamas security positions.

* Nine people died in the attacks, including three children. Another 40 were wounded.

* Hamas responded by launching an attack on the city of Beersheva, resulting in damage but no casualties.

* Israel is also facing pressure in the north, where fighting between rebels and the Syrian government has led to instability along the Golan Heights, a strip of Israeli-annexed territory bordering Syria and Israel. Israel has responded by firing on Syrian artillery positions.

* Another Reuters report indicates that the Arab League will meet on Thursday or Saturday to discuss the Israeli attack.

* Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi condemned the Israeli attack and withdrew Egypt's ambassador from Israel. Formerly a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, he has said he would uphold the 1979 peace agreement.

* On Tuesday, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland was asked if the administration was in contact with the Egyptians, since the U.S. would not engage directly with Hamas, in an effort to "tamp this down," referring to the rockets and bombs launched into Israel. Nuland said that she wasn't "sure diplomatically if we're engaged with the Egyptians on this," but said she would see if she could discuss the diplomatic conversations.

* The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Twitter account issued a travel advisory for Gaza. "#Israel: We continue to advise against all travel to #Gaza. High risk of military exchanges in and around Gaza."

* The day before the Israeli offensive, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had given a speech drawing attention to the importance of a two-state solution for bringing peace to the region. "A two-state solution remains the only viable option to end this conflict and the occupation that has endured for almost half a century," he said in his talk.

Shawn Humphrey is a former contributor to The Flint Journal and an amateur Africanist, focusing his personal studies on human rights and political issues on the continent.

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