Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal called Dec. 27 for a new uprising against Israel after air-strikes in the Gaza Strip killed more than 200. “I call upon you to carry out a third intifada,” Meshaal told his followers from Damascus in an AlJazeera TV interview. He called for a “military intifada against the Zionist enemy” as well as “a peaceful intifada internally”—an apparent reference to Hamas’ struggle with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. (Reuters, Dec. 27)
Israel’s Dec. 27 air-strikes on Gaza killed at least 225 people and injured more than 700, according to Palestinian doctors. Children on their way home from school and policemen parading for a graduation ceremony were the principal victims, but a TV station, plastics factory and a mosque were also hit, Palestinian leaders said. Israeli leaders emphasized that the strikes—codenamed “Operation Cast Lead”—hit some 100 security compounds and rocket-launching bases across the Strip. The Israeli leadership threatened more strikes, and a ground invasion invasion if Hamas rocket attacks do not cease. The UN Security Council is convening an emergency session, where Libya is fronting a demand that the Israeli blitz immediately halt, and the US is blaming Hamas for breaking the ceasefire.
Air-strikes continued into Dec. 28, bringing the toll in the raids to at least 230—the highest ever in the history of the Gaza conflict. (London Times, BBC World Service, Dec. 28)
Some 100 mortar shells and Qassam rockets were fired at Israel in the two days before the massive retaliatory raids. They caused some property damage but no casualties. Defense Minister Ehud Barak nonetheless told his Labor party faction before the attacks: “Anyone who hurts Israeli civilians or soldiers will pay the price.” Barak, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and Benjamin Netanyahu of the opposition Likud party, are all running for prime minister in elections Feb. 10. Livni met Dec. 25 with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who helped mediate a six-month truce between Israel and Hamas that ended Dec. 19. Three Israelis were killed—two of them soldiers—and four in rocket attacks on Ashkelon and Netivot Dec. 27. (Jerusalem Post, Bloomberg, Dec. 25; Fars, Dec. 27)
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