msnbc | November 17, 2012
>>> hello everyone. it is high noon here in the east. almost 9:00 a.m . out west. breaking news. we begin with nbc's mike viqueira in washington. mike with a good day to you. i know you've just listened to a white house briefing on two big stories. let's talk about israel first.
>> reporter: well you're right. we did hear from senior white house officials. aboard air force one the president on his way to southeast asia for a historic trip there. but these activities are really unfolding in israel and the gaza strip is dominating attention worldwide. the president spoke again with the israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu . he has spoken with him each day before this crisis began to unfold. they talked about the iron dome program, the anti- rocket defense that is so far from what we can tell effectively protecting israel from those rocket strikes out of the gaza strip . the president has also spoken with the new egyptian president , mohammed mersi and turkish prime minister . they have relations with has mass according to the senior official they were encouraged to engage hamas to get them to stop the rocket strikes which the official characterized as the precipitating factor in this exchange of rocket fire from israel and hamas in the gaza strip . finally prospects for a ground offensive by israel into gau scat white house official would simply say " israel can make their own decisions about tactics and operations."
>> okay, mike viqueira, thank you very much for that. from mike to tell awe vooef we head to nbc's martin fletcher . martin, what is the nature of the conflict on the ground there now for both sides?
>> reporter: well, alex, as mike just said, what president obama said sound a little bit like a green light for israel to do whatever it takes necessary. what's happening right now is with the army here is doing all it takes to prepare for a ground invasion of gaza . but no order has been given. i'm pretty sure they don't want to give the order. the whole point of these strikes has been to stop the palestinian rocket fire into israel . it hasn't really worked. that's why a ground invasion is still an option. today just about an hour ago a rocket was fired here from gaza to tel aviv where i'm standing. there is a warning hamas still does have this capability. it's been a bitter day and ferocious day of fighting especially earlier on. there were 200 rocket -- air force attacks by israel on gaza just in the early hours of the morning. 200. and they targeted targets they have not aimed at before. this time they went into civilian buildings belonging to the hamas government, symbols of power if you like in gaza . they knocked out the prime minister's office there. his office was totally flattened. that was a building by the way where yesterday the palestinian leader was meeting the egyptian prime minister . that today doesn't exist anymore. the palestinian police headquarters knocked out. israel is going after these what they call symbols of power as an escalation to try to put more pressure on hamas to try to ward off the need for a ground invasion. but if that ground invasion is called for, israel does say it's fully ready. they've ordered up 16,000 reserve soldiers, the regular army is amassed on the border of gaza already. we saw that ourselves yesterday. so far the emergency security council cabinet here ordered up the full 75,000 reserve soldiers to be put on stand by for a possible ground invasion. so everything's set for that ground invasion. i do believe at the same time all the army is doing now is waiting for the order to go in if israel cannot stop those rockets in any other way. of course there is some diplomatic activity going on, too, in egypt in particular, trying to organize a truce. only a 48-hour truce between israel and hamas . so there's a positive moves ahead going on trying to end this diplomatically. but not everybody is betting on that right now, alex.
>> sounds like all the pieces are on the chess board for sure. thank you very