Over the past few weeks, a slowly growing series of rocket attacks by Hamas on Israel, and retaliatory strikes by Israeli forces, has sharply escalated into a crisis. The skies over the Gaza Strip and southern Israel have filled with hundreds of rockets, missiles, and warplanes since Wednesday, bringing varying levels of destruction to the populations below. Tensions are growing as Israel's military has called up thousands of reservists and deployed troops along the border. At the same time, Egypt's new Prime Minister Hisham Kandil made an official visit to Gaza today. Meanwhile rocket attacks continued, setting off air raid sirens as far north as Tel Aviv.
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Smoke rises after Israeli air strikes in the northern Gaza Strip, on November 14, 2012. Israel launched a major offensive against Palestinian militants in Gaza on Wednesday, killing the military commander of Hamas in an air strike and threatening an invasion of the enclave that the Islamist group vowed would "open the gates of hell".
A rocket launched by Palestinians militants towards Israel makes its way from the northern Gaza Strip, seen from the Israel-Gaza Border, southern Israel, November 15, 2012.
(AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Israelis take cover in a large concrete pipe used as a bomb shelter after a rocket was launched from the Gaza Strip on November 15, 2012 in Nitzan, Israel.
(Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
Smoke trails rise as Iron Dome missiles intercept a rocket which was launched from Gaza, near the southern town of Sderot, on November 15, 2012. A Hamas rocket killed three Israelis north of the Gaza Strip, drawing the first blood from Israel as the Palestinian death toll rose to 15 in a military showdown lurching closer to all-out war with an invasion of Gaza.
Palestinians extinguish the burning car of Ahmaed Jaabari, head of the military wing of the Hamas movement, the Ezzedin Qassam Brigades, after it was hit by an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on November 14, 2012. Al-Jaabari, the top Hamas commander, was killed in the strike, medics and a Hamas source said.
(Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli armored personnel carriers are stationed at the Israeli-Gaza Strip border on November 16, 2012. Israeli officials said the Jewish state was preparing to launch its first ground offensive in four years into the Gaza Strip and the army started calling up 16,000 reservists.
(Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)
Smoke rises after Israeli air strikes in Gaza City, on November 16, 2012. Egypt's prime minister prepared to visit the Gaza Strip on Friday in an unprecedented display of solidarity with Hamas militants embroiled in a new escalation of conflict with Israel that risks spiraling into all-out war.
BBC journalist Jihad Masharawi weeps while he holds the body of his 11-month old son Ahmad, at Shifa hospital following an Israeli air strike on their family house, in Gaza City, on November 14, 2012. Read more on this photo and the story behind it.
(AP Photo/Majed Hamdan)
Israeli soldiers watch as an Iron Dome launcher fires an interceptor rocket near the southern city of Beersheba, on November 15, 2012. Hamas fired dozens of rockets into southern Israel on Thursday, killing three people, and Israel launched numerous air strikes across the Gaza Strip, threatening a wider offensive to halt repeated Palestinian salvos.
Palestinian women cry during the funeral of Tahrer Salman and Mohammed Salman in Beit Lahia, north Gaza, on November 16, 2012. According to relatives, the two members of the Salman family were killed after an Israeli airstrike hit the yard of their house. At least 22 Palestinians, including 12 militants and six children, as well as three Israelis have been killed in three days of fierce exchanges between the Israeli military and Gaza militants.
(AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)