Charlotteans mourn victims in Israel; Gaza - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Charlotteans mourn victims in Israel; Gaza

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV/CBS NEWS) - Charlotteans are feeling the effects of the fighting between Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza. Friday night, several local residents held a vigil to pray for the victims. One Charlotte woman just returned from Israel earlier in the week.

"Our heart goes out to everybody that's involved," said JCC Executive Director Sue Worrel.

Local Palestinians prayed at the corner of Trade and Tryon Friday night. Charlotte resident Basem Hannosh has family members in the West Bank.

"Everyone is scared, and that's obvious. It's not a fair fight," said Hannosh.

Israel expanded its fierce air assault on rocket operations in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, striking Hamas government and security compounds, smuggling tunnels and electricity sources after an unprecedented rocket attack aimed at the holy city of Jerusalem raised the stakes in its violent confrontation with Palestinian militants.

Israeli aircraft also kept pounding their initial targets, the militants' weapons-storage facilities and underground rocket-launching sites. The Israeli military called up thousands of reservists and massed troops, tanks and armored vehicles along the border with Gaza, signaling a ground invasion of the densely populated seaside strip could be imminent.

Israel launched its military campaign Wednesday after days of heavy rocket fire from Gaza and has carried out some 700 airstrikes since, the military said. Militants, undaunted by the heavy damage the air attacks have inflicted, have unleashed some 500 rockets against the Jewish state, including new, longer-range weapons turned for the first time this week against Jerusalem and Israel's Tel Aviv heartland.

Israel has slowly expanded its operation beyond military targets and before dawn on Saturday, the Gaza Interior Ministry reported, missiles smashed into two small Hamas security facilities as well as the massive Hamas police headquarters in Gaza City, setting off a huge blaze that engulfed nearby houses and civilian cars parked outside. No one was inside the buildings at the time.

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