Hamas has called for a general strike throughout the Palestinian territories Jan. 16 to mourn those killed in today’s Israeli raids in the Gaza Strip that left 19 dead and scores injured. At a press conference in Gaza City, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said “the Israeli massacre in the Zeitoun neighborhood was carried out with the encouragement of US President George W. Bush to expand the war against the sector.” He called on the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah to halt all meetings with Israel, saying they have consistently proved a failure. (Ma’an News Agency, Jan. 15)
The bloodshed began before dawn when Israeli infantry, tanks and helicopters pushed into northern Gaza in what the military said was an operation aimed at Palestinian militants. The incursion was followed with an air-strike. Nineteen Palestinians were killed, including three civilians. Among the slain combatants was Hussam Zahar, 24, the son of former Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar.
The fighting comes a day after Israeli and Palestinian negotiators began talks on the heels of President Bush’s visit and prediction of a signed peace treaty within a year. (Daily Star, Lebanon, Jan. 16)
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