Israel Mobilizes After Gaza Rocket Attack, Escalation Looms by Aron Heller – AP
A long-range rocket fired from the Gaza Strip slammed into a house in central Israel and wounded seven people early Monday, forcing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cut short a high-profile visit to Washington and prompting the military to deploy troops along Israel's southern border.
Netanyahu promised a tough response while Gaza's Hamas leaders went into hiding, setting the stage for a possible major conflagration just two weeks before Israeli elections.
The early-morning rocket strike came at a sensitive time for both sides. Netanyahu, locked in a tight race for re-election, came under heavy criticism from his rivals Monday and faced tough pressure to strike back at Hamas.
The Islamic militant group, meanwhile, is facing perhaps its toughest test since seizing control of Gaza 12 years ago. An Israel-Egyptian blockade, imposed to weaken Hamas, combined with sanctions by the rival Palestinian Authority and mismanagement by the Hamas government have all fueled an economic crisis.
Hamas has been leading weekly protests along the Israeli border for the past year in hopes of easing the blockade, but the demonstrations, in which some 190 people have been killed by Israeli fire, have done little to improve conditions…