The number of Palestinians killed in the ongoing Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip reached 434, with at least 2,280 wounded as the air campaign entered its seventh day Jan. 3. Five children were killed in al-Qarara town, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Strip. Two more children were killed at Jabalia in the north, when missiles struck the home of Imad Aqel, a leader of the al-Qassam Brigades, armed wing of Hamas. Civilian casualties were also reported at al-Boreij refugee camp. Schools and civilian vehicles were also hit. (International Middle East Media Center, Jan. 3)
Despite the ongoing air-strikes, thousands of Hamas supporters attended the funeral procession for slain Hamas leader Nizar Rayan and fourteen members of his family. Several members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) attended the funeral. Hamas leader and PLC member Ismail al-Asqar said that “the killing of Rayan has strengthened the movement.” Mourners also prayed in the yard of a Gaza City mosque that was destroyed the night of Dec. 1. (Ma’an News Agency, Jan. 2)
Israeli planes dropped leaflets calling for Gazans to inform the Israeli military of the whereabouts of Hamas rocket launchers in return for aid. The papers were found by the thousands all over Gaza on the morning Dec. 2. The leaflet reads:
To the residents of the Gaza Strip,
Take responsibility for your fate!
If you wish to provide help and assistance to your people in the sector, call the number below to provide us with the needed information. The projectile launchers and the terrorist elements pose a threat to you and your families.
The power to stop the massacre is in your hands.
We will be glad to receive any information you have and it is not necessary to give us your personal information.
Your anonymity is guaranteed.
Call us at the following number:
Or you can e-mail us at: email@example.com to provide us with any information on the terrorist factions.
Note: To protect your safety, we ask you to be secretive when you call us.
Head of the Israeli Defense Forces
It is not clear whether or not Google is aware of Israel’s usage of its G-mail program for military purposes. Calls to its headquarters in California seeking comment Jan. 2 were not immediately returned. The Israeli military also cut into the Voice of al-Quds radio station in Gaza and broadcast announcements conveying a message similar to that of the leaflets. At the same time, the al-Qassam Brigades, managed to cut into Israeli military radio channels and broadcast statements in Hebrew warning soldiers against entering the Gaza Strip. (Ma’an News Agency, Jan. 2)
In Washington, President George Bush branded the ongoing Hamas rocket attacks on Israel an “act of terror” and posed monitoring to halt the flow of weapons to Hamas as his own condition for a ceasefire in Gaza. The toll of those killed in Hamas rocket attacks since the air campaign began still stands at four. (AP, Jan. 2) These deaths brought the tally of civilian fatalities from rocket strikes to 19 since 2002, when militants in Gaza first began firing missiles at Israeli towns. Ironically, one of the four deaths was that of an Israeli-Arab construction worker who was at a job site in Ashkelon when it was struck by a Hamas Katyusha rocket Dec. 30. Some ten fellow Arab workers were wounded in the attack. (The Guardian, Dec. 30)
See our last post on Gaza
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