'This Week': Crisis in Israel

As attacks between Israel and Hamas escalate, ABC News' Martha Raddatz and Alex Marquardt are live on the ground with the latest.
6:02 | 07/13/14

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Transcript for 'This Week': Crisis in Israel
Announcer: Starting right now on ABC's "This week" -- breaking overnight. Israeli commandos storm gaza. Gunfire exchanged in the midnig raid. The death toll continues to rise. Is this the start of a full-scale ground war? Martha Raddatz leads the team coverage from an explosive middle east. Homeland threat. It's more frightening than anything I have seen as attorney general. Announcer: Pierre Thomas one on one with the attorney general. Plus, a special report. From beyond the border. Are you afraid? Announcer: We're in central America, following the children heading north. And homecoming. L.b.j. Announcer: What a week for Cleveland and king James. From ABC news, "This week" with George stephanopoulos begins now. Good morning. Right to the breaking news. After days of rocket fire and air strikes, Israeli commandos engage in their first combat in gaza. Is this leading to an all-out ground war? Or can a cease-fire take hold before more rockets are fired? More civilians are killed? Martha Raddatz starts us off. From the border of Israel and gaza. Good morning, Martha. Reporter: Good morning, George. I'm standing near what is essentially the front line in the conflict. I'm in Israel. Just behind me a few miles is gaza. There has been a constant exchange of fire. Hamas rockets, and Israeli air strikes. For the very first time last night, Israel sent in a small number of ground troops, the first time they have done so since 2009. It was in the dead of night when several dozen Navy commandos, Israel's equivalent of the Navy S.E.A.L.S, approached the shore from the mediterranean sea in small boats. Surveillance planes and attack helicopters providing cover. They destroyed a number of hamas long-range rockets and laujers that have been targeting Israel's major cities. Hamas militants spotted the team and opened fire. There was a huge engagement. We took out the capabilities and the terrorists. Reporter: The Israelis have been pounding hamas from the air for days. We watched on this stunning hillside. With several dozen residents of an Israeli town hit frequently by rocket fire from gaza over the years. Now, the residents gather every day to watch the Israeli air force strike back. You saw missiles right there? Oh, you shot it. You don't have to wait here very long. How often does this happen? Actually, this is, uh -- Reporter: We can see one outgoing right now. That's tel aviv. Reporter: Last night, three rockets made it near or above tel aviv, where they were intercepted by the iron dome, Israel also multibillion-dollar defense system. Not a single Israeli has been killed during this operation. In gaza, it's another story. This is what the air strikes look like from the ground. The Israelis warn residents that their building has been targeted with what they call a knock on the roof to get them to evacuate. Just minutes later, watch. As a powerful missile completely destroys this house. The Israelis may be warning the residents. But according the united nations, 75% of those killed in gaza are civilians. 5 years or 6 years, child. I know that it's innocent people. Reporter: But there are still fears of a wider war. 30,000 Israeli reservists have been called up. And Israeli tanks are already amassed on the gaza border, in case the order comes for a full-scale ground attack. What kind of tipping point would there be? If the iron dome is unsuccessful in a way that it causes huge devastation. Reporter: The people there are expecting the worst. A mass evacuation of American citizens in gaza. Where Alex Marquardt reports. Reporter: Those evacuations took place this morning. 144 American citizens among a bigger group of foreign passport holders that Israel has allowed to leave. Exodus from gaza. The lucky few boarding buses to leave. There, we meet this family from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, here to visit family. Now escaping a war. Are you disappointed to be leaving? No, no. I'm happy. I miss America. Reporter: You want to get home, out of the war zone? Yes. Reporter: They grab their heavy bags for the long walk to the border. Once out of gaza, the relief to be going home is bittersweet. My family over there, you know. Reporter: Her family and so many others stuck as Israeli missiles rain down on targets and people. That the Palestinians here say have nothing to do with hamas rocket fire. This crowd pulling out a clearly wounded man out of a mosque struck just moments ago. The anger and body count soaring. Almost 170 now dead. Over 1100 wounded. With no end in sight. Today, prime minister Benjamin netanyahu said Israel is stepping up its operations against hamas. He accused hamas for being responsible for using civilians as human shields. Martha? You can expect more of those small, commando raids by the Israelis and certainly more air strikes. They say they will not stop the air strikes until hamas stops firing rockets. So far, the Israelis have only gotten 20% of those rockets. George? Thank you, Martha.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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