With the Israeli offensive in Gaza well into its fourth day, tensions are only mounting in the war-torn region.
The fighting was sparked by a series of events that occurred over the past several weeks, including the kidnapping and murdering of three Israeli teens by Palestinian extremists and the burning alive of a Palestinian teen by Israeli extremists.
The Israeli teens who were kidnapped in June included Naftali Fraenkel (aged 16), Gilad Shaer (also aged 16) and Eyal Yifrah (aged 19). Each of these teens was executed following the kidnapping. Naftali Fraenkel was an American citizen, which gave the United States the right to investigate the situation.
In what has been called an act of retaliation for this crime, Israeli extremists beat and burned Palestinian Mohammed Abu Khedeir (aged 16) to death last week. This action sparked outrage in the Palestinian community, and militant Palestinians began to shoot rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip following the murder.
Not only are Palestinians firing rockets into Israel, but also the Lebanese, Israel's neighbors to the north. These two countries, which fought a war back in 2006, are on shaky terms to say the least. Given the circumstances Israeli forces are not taking the rocket fired from Lebanon lightly.
As tends to be the case in conflicts between Israel and Palestine, Palestinian civilians are experiencing significantly higher death tolls than are Israeli civilians. According to Newser, at least 95 Palestinians have been killed in the offensive thus far, though some news sources think the actual number may be higher.
As for Israel's plans for the immediate future, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had this to say, according to the New York Times, “No international pressure will prevent us from striking the terrorists who are attacking us."
President Obama has stated that the only outcome he wishes to see is a cease-fire between the two sides, and has expressed his desire to help broker an armistice. As of now, however, the fighting continues to escalate and citizens on both sides of the conflict continue to perish.