U.S. fears Israel-Hamas conflict escalates to ground invasion
November 16th, 2012
03:24 PM ET

U.S. fears Israel-Hamas conflict escalates to ground invasion

By Barbara Starr and Jill Dougherty

The major concern of the United States in the current Israeli-Hamas conflict is a potential Israeli ground incursion into Gaza, U.S. officials said Friday.

That would be a disastrous escalation that could trigger a larger conflict, a senior U.S. official told CNN.

"Escalation is what we are concerned about. We don't want it to escalate to the point where Israel feels it has to take additional action, specifically ground force action," the official said.

Israel has some ground forces on the border and ready to act if they are called to do so, said Israel's ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, in a conference call with reporters Friday.

Israel's Cabinet on Friday authorized the call-ups of up to 75,000 reservists, prime minister's spokesman Mark Regev said. Israel's military said earlier in the day that 30,000 troops are being mobilized for a possible move into Gaza.

So far, Israeli tank units and troops have stayed outside Gaza. But the senior U.S. official indicated while the United States unequivocally supports Israel's right to self-defense, the U.S. message right now is for Israel not to enter Gaza on the ground.

"Ground forces would clearly be a major escalation," he said.

The official said the worry is Israeli ground troops could lead to drawing Egypt into the conflict.

"What action would Egypt take, would they move into Sinai?" he said.

He said the assessment is that a number of other Arab nations in the region would then, at least rhetorically, join with Egypt against Israel. The official emphasized this is a U.S. worry and the strong hope is Hamas will stop its rocket attacks on Israel, thereby ending Israeli strikes.

"The question also is how much Hamas wants to risk," the official said.

A second official said the United States also is watching closely to see if Iran, which backs Hamas, attempts to infiltrate new fighters or weapons supplies into Gaza. Neither official would speak on the record because they were discussing sensitive national security matters.

Daniel Ben Simon, an Israeli Knesset member not aligned with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition, said Friday that he sensed "almost an absence" from Washington, adding, "It's time for the Americans to step in."

"We need the boss, and the boss is still the White House," Ben Simon said, calling U.S. officials "the only ones that can control the situation and ... talk freely" to all sides. "It seems the White House is too silent."

U.S. President Barack Obama did talk Friday with Netanyahu, after the Israeli prime minister called him to voice "deep appreciation ... for the United States' investment in the Iron Dome rocket and mortar defense system," the White House said.

"The president reiterated U.S. support for Israel's right to defend itself, and expressed regret over the loss of Israeli and Palestinian civilian lives," the statement said. "The two leaders discussed options for de-escalating the situation."

Obama called Egyptian President Mohammed Morsy, commending "Egypt's efforts to de-escalate the situation and (expressing) his hope that these efforts would be successful," the White House said in another statement. The president also "expressed regret for the loss of Israeli and Palestinian civilian lives."

The State Department says Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has made a number of phone calls trying to muster international pressure to stop what it terms a "very, very dangerous situation" in Gaza.

Clinton, traveling in Asia, called Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr for the second time in as many days, as well as Jordanian King Abdullah and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Friday.

"In all cases her message has been the same: that we are urging a de-escalation of this conflict, we are urging those countries with influence on Hamas and other groups in Gaza to use that influence to get a de-escalation."

There will be other calls, Nuland said, to other countries to maximize pressure on Hamas. "I think we are all in the same place. The Egyptians are, the Turkish government is," she said.

Nuland added that the United States is encouraged that Egypt is involved in what she termed "urgent diplomacy."

The Egyptian prime minister was in Gaza on Friday, and Nuland said the call was an opportunity to get an update on that visit and to get a sense from the Egyptians in the wake of the visit what further steps they can take to help de-escalate the situation.

The U.S. Navy is continuing to keep to the standard deployment of three warships in the eastern Mediterranean that can shoot down ballistic missiles fired by Iran that would threaten Israel. Those ships are not equipped to deal with the short-range rockets being used by Hamas.

The Navy also has quietly made the decision to keep three amphibious warships with several hundred Marines on board in the vicinity of the Mediterranean in the unlikely event they might be needed to assist Americans leaving Israel.

Three U.S. military officials stressed strongly that the scenario is very unlikely.

"No one has even drawn an evacuation plan on the back of a cocktail napkin yet," one official said. But the three ships have been told to stay in place until there is more certainty about what is happening.

The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv took precautionary measures Friday, reducing its staff and suspending routine consular services, according to an embassy security message. Additionally, embassy staff were instructed to keep their children home from school for the day and were prohibited from traveling to the south of Israel.

Filed under: Israel • Middle East • Military • Palestine
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  16. Ino

    Jews are God Chosen People. We were given the holy land by God. Christians and Muslims should take their sorry ass somewhere else.

    November 20, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Reply
    • Jewish Soldier

      I agree with you. I hate Christian who question why we are killing people. They forget that in Bible it is written that Jews should rule the Earth before Jesus will come back

      November 20, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Reply
      • Get Life

        Really, so killing babies and women is okay in your religion? Oh I forgot thats why God sent Jesus to get you out of your misery. Convert to Christianity, a religion of peace.

        November 20, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • Jewish Soldier

      Atleast we are killing them with precision. Thanks to our friend USA for providing us Weapons. America is our only ally who has always supported us.

      November 20, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Reply
    • Darryl Revok

      I would love nothing more than for the United States to leave the Jews and Arabs to there own devices, we need to drill for our own oil and let you people eat each other like dogs in the street. I wouldnt spend a single american life to defend either of you. A Jew is no more chosen by any God than a German is chosen by Nature to be the master race.Your head is so full of delusion I can smell it from here.

      November 20, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Reply
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  20. Ino

    "We the Jews are the chosen people. Therefore, without question, we are the best. People of Israel are superior to all. G-D has made everyone to be used or serve at the pleasure of the Jews "
    Rabbi Ben Artzi

    November 19, 2012 at 6:54 am | Reply
    • Delvin Morizovich

      raciist, religiously deluded, idiot

      November 19, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Reply
      • Ino

        Antisemetic rants are the last resort of the crazy Arabs and other similar degenerates .

        November 19, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
      • Stopalready!

        Stop arguing with these crazy Arabs you'll get nowhere. Look how they treat their women. Enough said! Uncivilized group of people.

        November 20, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • srb

      you jews are the biggest criminals and liars on earth..you are right about being the chosen people u are the chosen criminals, liars and thieves of this world. pathetic and discusting people.

      November 20, 2012 at 1:35 am | Reply
      • Ino

        You are low life Arab. We have the right to kill all non Jews.

        November 20, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  21. termite289

    team Israel;
    sorry Gaza, you haven't been arresting anyone for causing international incidents by firing rockets from your land, so you must condone and approve. deal with it.

    November 19, 2012 at 3:57 am | Reply
    • Dingbat

      You must not blame others when they say nasty things about Israel. There is nothing, least of all the reasons that Israel has laid out, for the massive onslaught on the poorly armed Gazans. This is nothing but to pacify Gaza prior to dealing with Iran. As an American I feel ashamed that we instead of standing by the side of the weak are siding with the bully. Mr. Obama has not even started his second term and he has already began to let down his ardent supporters. The President should stand up for American values and principals . It is these that make the US a moral force and a super power.

      November 19, 2012 at 7:22 am | Reply
  22. Darryl Revok

    Frankly, I couldnt give a damn about the Jews or the Arabs, we should drill our own oil and leave them to fight it out in the street like dogs. Do you really CARE who runs what over their? Would that even effect us in any possible way if we drilled our own oil? No it wouldnt. Our "national security" is in no danger from the fanatic fringe elements we call "terrorists". They could never take us down in a million years, but if we allow our fear of them to dictate policy, then they can. Our civil liberties are under daily, constant attack from our own government, but no one seems to care, as it has become common place. Casualties from a terrorist attack every once in awhile is a small price to pay in order to maintain our civil liberty. Those costs would be far lower than the casualties we sustain from those that would promise us "security" yet send our boys across the globe as cannon fodder for the interests of the banking cartels and military industrial complex. Freedom in a dangerous world is far preferable to slavery in a safe one. Keep your cage, I dont want it. Fact is, the psudo left that fights tooth and nail to block oil exploration and drilling are playing into the very interests that need an insanely huge military presence across the globe to maintain profits and keep us embedded in the foriegn entanglements of the middle east. These entanglements keep us in ever increasing commitments both fiscally and strategically, all to the detriment of the homeland.

    November 19, 2012 at 12:00 am | Reply
    • Derrall

      There use to be a name for Darryls, called Ostrich Democrats came about in the 80s, when US democrats refuse to acknowledge the threat of Soviet domination in Central America- ignore the problem and it will go away – is the theory. Darryl is probably to young, to have heard of Neville Chamblerlin- and his denial and appeasement of Adolf Hliter- (who at the time was claimed to be irrelevent – didnt matter – can't hurt us ). Tell the families of 9 11, how terrorism- can'thurt us -.Thanks Darrly for your commentary- it's sheds light on the emerging culture ignorance and indifference, that is taking over the American psychie, by these young air heads reaching adulthood (physically not mentally).

      November 19, 2012 at 8:19 am | Reply
      • Darryl Revok

        LOL, You cannot compare the designs of a superpower like the USSR diametrically opposed to the United States with "terrorism"....thats just vapid. Im no leftist, far from it actually, I only care what is in the best interests of the United States, not whats in the best interests of Isreal or the "International community". If we drilled for our own oil and became energy independant, what happens in the middle east would no longer be our problem, it would be Europes, and they would have to adjust their defense strategy accordingly. I would be happy with dominating our half of the globe and leaving the rest up for grabs. We are nearing an impending crisis and are unable to maintain the level of military presence we have across the globe, it weakens us, it dosnt make us stronger. It simply makes us that much bigger a target to be drawn into foriegn wars by having to "save face" and escalate any attacks made against us...and for what? It dosnt benifit anyone but defense contractors and the banks that finance them. We are plenty powerful without having to prove it on a daily basis. Far from being an appeaser, I would of nuked the "holy" city of Mecca after 9/11 and then ask the muslims why thier god didnt stop me.

        November 19, 2012 at 10:05 am |
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  25. william

    Why the islamic world talk so much for the of the Palestinian right. No islamic countries will have the will nor guts to fight out military with Isreal stop talking and show action to solve this criss

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  26. Gary hayes

    It is funny how we kid our selves about what is real and what is not real. Israel is reacting to anger that has been fermenting for thousands of years. In reality they have o one to blame but themselves for claiming thousands of years ago that their god was the only god and that he loved them more than anyone else. Who am I to say what god is real and who that god may happen to love. What I know is this: Israel spent thusands of years wandering this planet. they settled in many different countries. They held on to their beilefs and their ways of life. During a short and tragic time in the history of our world they were tormented and killed in numbers beyond the pale of consciousness. In 1948 they found the money to buy the weapons and take back land they claim their god gave them. They won that fight and the whole world recognized them as a nation and gave them soveirngty. ( misspelled that my bad). In the 60's full of the courage that comes from being recognized they began their expansion. It is funny how approval brings colonization. That sad part is that in 1948 and every year afterwards Israel has been expanding their boundaries. Those boundaries are putting people out of their homes. Isreael is doing this based on a concept that "god" has given them the right to do so. Unfortunately in today's world, it is the deed of trust that gives ownership. Now we can all say that the bible, the Torah, the Koran are the words of our gods, but the truth is the deed of trust is the rule of law.

    Israel needs to stop expanding and the Arabs and Palestinians need to find a way to forgive their cousins and start the process of peace. if we do not do that then war is coming and it will be a war that no god can save us from.

    It is hard to forgive when the lives of those you love have been taken. God knows the Palestinians and the Jews know that more than we care to imagine.

    For me I want peace. I want to embrace every person and let them know we are all brothers and sisters in this life. sure we think and act differently but in the end we are all part of this one human race. I hope they work it out but in the even you do not get ready for judgement and it wont be coming from god, It will be coming from the consequences of your irrational anger.

    November 18, 2012 at 10:27 pm | Reply
    • Darryl Revok

      I agree with you on all the theological nonsense with no basis in physical reality. The only way we can achieve peace(at least for the United States) is through complete energy independence. The left does not realize they play into the hands of the oil/military industrial complex interests by blocking oil exploration and drilling. The large defense contractors DONT want energy independance because it would make our currently massive military presence around the world redundant and unecessary, slashing profits under the massive demobilization that would be the end result of not having to guard foriegn access to oil. Until we produce all of our own energy and then some, we will continually be embedded in foriegn entanglements across the planet that do much more to threaten national security by drawing us into conflicts that have the potential to become world wars than anything that could possibly invade us through any direct invasion or terrorist attack. Our current state of affairs in the united states, both economically and militarily, are quite frankly, insane.

      November 19, 2012 at 12:34 am | Reply
      • Texas

        Why deplete ours now, when we can deplete theirs first?

        November 19, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • Paul II

      First, none of the Jews I know feel God loves them "more". Second, Israel has not been expanding its borders every year. In fact they have evacuated their people from Gaza, S. Lebanon, and the Sinai.

      November 19, 2012 at 1:53 am | Reply
  27. Dr. Salah Sultan

    Why the USA and world media not tell the world what is happening. why they do not tell the world that the jews kill the palestinians to take the blood!!. they take the blood and knead it in the matzos. the arab and palestinine media will only tell the world what the jews do with the blood. THE WORLD MUST KNOW THE TRUTH THEY USE THE BLOOD FOR THE MATZOS!!.the arab people are only to be told the truth. the USA must be know to the truth why they lie to the people at home? This is the world conspiracy of silence.

    November 18, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Reply
    • Gary hayes

      you are so full of it. you claim that Israel kills to sop up blood to make their matzo. you are part of the problem there are Jews just like you and they are part of the problem as well. your anger is so telling. I have no idea who you have lost in this anger but I do know that anger is all that drives you not judgement, not rational thinking just anger. Take a breath and hug your children and your wife if they are still with you. learn how to forgive and move beyond the anger and understand that pain comes to all of us and it is how we process that pain that makes us men.

      November 18, 2012 at 10:35 pm | Reply
      • Dr. Salah Sultan

        You cover yours eyes ears in america to not know the truth. you sit at safety of your home and shop in the malls. while the arabs are murdered the blood is used by the zionist butchers for the matzos wether you want to know or not. it is truth to be known in arab world. we are known to the truth while butchers seek to coverup and ignore. sleep well in home while the babies are murdered. enjoy your matzos!!! the truth is well to be known in palestine.

        November 18, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
      • tompatoP

        Sultan... Truth is subject to the side you are on. I think you know this based on your comments. The fact is the middle east is in turmoil – more than in previous years due to the introduction of more powerful weapons. Israel is no better that the rest. That said, we can't possibly look at the actions of one without gauging the actions of all in the middle east. The region is chaotic, confused, and desparate. My fear is that the dispondent populations in the middle east will lead to the next world war – one that they will inevitably lose, but will result in the unneccessary deaths of thousands. One hope remains, and that is education. The smarter we become, the less likely we are to fall victim to propoganda and faith filled rhetoric that is nothing more that fodder.

        November 18, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
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