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As Conflict Intensifies, So Do Fears If Israeli Invasion Of Gaza

Israeli Defence Force (IDF) soldiers arrive to an army base as some 16,000 reserve troops are drafted in, on November 16, 2012 near southern border, Israel. (credit: Yefimovich/Getty Images)

Israeli Defence Force (IDF) soldiers arrive to an army base as some 16,000 reserve troops are drafted in, on November 16, 2012 near southern border, Israel. (credit: Yefimovich/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Israel and Hamas appear to be poised on the brink of war.

Thick black smoke hung over Gaza’s skyline as fires and explosions rocked the area. Israel’s military say they struck the Interior Ministry, a mosque and several other Hamas targets in various strikes that came in response to rocket attacks.

Militants say they launched at least one rocket at Jerusalem. That rocket exploded in a field outside the city. A Palestinian rocket also targeted Tel Aviv on the third day of the Israeli military operation against militants. Sirens wailed across the city Friday afternoon shortly before the explosion sounded out.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said no injuries have been reported and it appears the rocket landed in the Mediterranean.

1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports

It was the second straight day that rockets have reached the Tel Aviv area, marking a significant improvement in the militants’ capabilities. Gaza militants have never before managed to strike the city. Panicked residents scrambled for shelter as sirens sounded.

Israel considers an attack on the city to be a major escalation and showed signs it was preparing to widen the offensive. After days of battering militant targets with airstrikes, Israeli forces were massing along the border in preparation for a possible ground invasion. Army reservists have been called up as part of what they are calling “Operation Pillar of Defense.

The following video appeared on the Facebook page of Matan Ladani and was recorded in the town of Ashdod, a suburb on the outskirts of Tel Aviv,  on the morning of Nov. 16, 2012.

Facebook Video Claiming To Be From Ashdod, Israel:  

The big question is now whether Israel will invade Gaza.

David Harris, Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee, supports Israel’s right to defend itself.

LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Steve Scott With Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon

“No American citizen would ever accept that they’re going to be fired on from across the border day after day and have to live in bomb shelters and watch their government fail to react,” Harris told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg.

1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reports

The operation began Wednesday with the assassination of Hamas’ military chief and dozens of airstrikes on rocket launching sites. While Israel claims to have inflicted heavy damage, militants have fired hundreds of rockets into southern Israel, bringing the entire region to a standstill. At least 21 Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed, according to medical officials on both sides.

Isreali Defense Forces say Hamas militants have fired more than 400 rockets since Wednesday and that Israel has intercepted more than a hundred projectiles. Hundreds more have made it across the border. The military waned if Gaza rockets keep coming, they may sends tanks and soldiers in.

In Gaza, several children were among the casualties. Protesters joined mourners in funeral processions to demand an end to Israel’s air assault.

Egypt’s prime minister met with Hamas leaders in Gaza and condemned Israel. He promised to work with Arab leaders to broker a truce.

Israel said it would stop strikes during the visit by Egypt’s prime minister. Hamas still kept firing rockets into Israel however, including longer-range rockets which the Israelis say Hamas is getting from Iran, CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported.

EXTRA: More From CBS News

The outbreak of violence has sparked demonstrations in New York City.

Israeli and Palestinian supporters staged protests outside the Israel consulate Thursday night.

“I think Israel is using a disproportionate amount of force in a small urban area,” Palestinian supporter Niccolo Moretti said.

“It doesn’t just frustrate me, it pains me. There are innocent men women and children being killed,” pro-Israel protester Hillary Barr said.

The NYPD has stepped up security, setting up barricades the Israeli consulate. There was also increased security at Israeli government facilities and synagogues all over the city, CBS 2 reported.

The White House is standing behind Israel.

“Since the beginning of 2012, more than 768 rockets have been fired into Israel from Gaza,” State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said. “They have a right to self-defense.”

The violence has many in New York City fearing for the safety of their families who live in the region.

“My mother was running from side to side in her house today. She didn’t know what to do with herself,” pro-Israel protester Jacob Kimchy said.

“To watch and see at home, to see all those innocent children and what’s happened to them, it’s just not right,” pro-Palestinian protester Randa Abdullah said.

“It’s enough. There should be no more. This has been way too much,” Ayah Bazin added.

WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb: Additional Security In NYC

In New York City, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said that he has assigned additional personell to Jewish houses of worship and to the Israeli consulate.

That includes sending the NYPD’s heavily-armed Hercules teams, but that’s not all.

“We have critical response vehicles that we use to do this sort of additional security, another layer of security that we’ve put in place and we do that on the regular work, but obviously we focus it on certain locations when there’s information that indicates there may be cause for concern,” Kelly told WCBS 880 reporter Rich Lamb.

But Kelly stressed that there is no specific threat.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)