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Israel and Hamas on the Edge: Death Toll Climbs in Gaza

Israelis, Palestinians live in fear of potential ground war in Middle East.
3:00 | 11/15/12

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Transcript for Israel and Hamas on the Edge: Death Toll Climbs in Gaza
Are we on the brink of a new war in the middle east? All day long, we have seen rockets firing back and forth, taking a very real human toll. Look at this picture, from the gaza strip in the middle east. A father weeping, his 11-month-old son dead in his arms. At the same time, the terrifying sound of an air raid siren. Listen. And there is panic and fear in the streets of israel tonight. We're going to talk to abc's global affairs correspondent christiane amanpoamanpour. But we go first to the front lines, where israel meeflts the gaza strip, and abc's alex marquardt is there, in the middle, in gaza city. Alex? Reporter: Good evening, diane. We've heard some very loud explosions all around us tonight as israeli missiles land. We've heard the disting woosh of outgoing rockets at hamas returns fire. Tonight, it sees this burst of violence is only getting worse. All day long, rockets filled the bright blue sky, gaza militants firing on israel. At least one rocket landed tonight in tel aviv, israel's commercial capital. Sirens blared. Residents hit the ground. Three israelis were killed earlier when a rocket hit their apartment in the south. This as israeli warplanes pounded the gaza strip. Its target? Militant groups, most notably, hamas. But caught in the cross-fire, at least 12 civilian, including that 11-month-old boy. "What did my son do to die like this?" His father cried. This is what the aftermath of one of these strikes looks like. A massive crater filled with cinderblock and rebar, with a strong smell of diesel fuel, several of the houses around were damaged very badly. And the residents here on this street tell us they hope hamas and the other groups keep firing rockets into israel in retaliation. Israel sails this is a response to the almost 800 rockets that had landed in israel from gaza this year alone. This biggest escalation in years began yesterday, with israel targeting the car of hamas' top military commander, eliminated in the blink of an eye. Israel sails it is ready to enlarge this operation. And there are reports of significant troop movements towards gaza. 30,000 reservists may also be called up. A sign that an israeli ground incursion may be imminent. Diane? Thank you, alex. Now, we want to go to jerusalem and abc's christiane amanpour. Christi christiane, bottom line, first of all, is this region going to all-out war? Reporter: Well, clearly that's something that the united states does not want to see. There's a lot of upheaval and instability right now and anymore would just be bad news all around. Already this region is destabilized. You've got this ongoing civil war in syria. You've got tensionsn lebanon and that brings in hezbollah. And now with these post-arab spring democracies, these countries are much more answerable to their people. And if their people see that this situation in gaza is untenable and if they start to take to the streets, to protest against their leaders, if it enflames the arab street more than it has in the past, that would cause more instability. But at this point, what is the u.S. Obligation to israel, for defense in this situation, but also, what kind of pressure to exert? Reporter: The u.S. Has historic agreement to defend israel and stand by israel. What it hopes to be able to do is encourage israel not to cause too many civilian casualties, like what happened last time. But beyond that, the united states is not going to get involved on the ground. Where do you place the odds that hamas will listen to the egyptians and, indeed, there will be a cease-fire? Reporter: I think it's going to take some time. But this, the israelis say, is going to go on. It's not a matter of days, it could be weeks, diane.

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

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