As Israel continued its bombing of the Gaza Strip targets for a sixth day, targets included the offices of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, and a Gaza City mosque where Hamas activists were reportedly hiding. Rockets had also been fired at Israel from the mosque, Israel asserted. Among those killed in the New Years Eve air-strikes were a Palestinian doctor and medic. (Ha’aretz, Jan. 1) The death toll from “Operation Cast Lead” reached 400 with nearly 2,000 wounded, the head of Gaza emergency services Moawiya Hassanein said. Some 25% of the dead are civilians, the UN says. (Middle East Online, Jan. 1)
Israeli strikes also targeted the Legislative Assembly building and the Justice Ministry, and there were reports of damage to a children’s hospital. Nearly every government building in Gaza has been struck now, including the Education Ministry. Israeli jets have flown some 500 sorties, with helicopter gunships also being used.
Israel again rejected calls for a UN-backed ceasefire. A draft UN resolution put forward by Egypt and Libya failed after the US and UK protested that it called on Israel to ends its air-strikes but made no mention of Hamas rocket attacks against Israel, which they say started the latest hostilities. Rockets fired by Hamas militants have again landed in Beersheba, although there were no further casualties. (BBC World Service, BBC News, Jan. 1)
Israel is amassing tanks and troops on Gaza’s border, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak has repeatedly warned of an imminent ground assault. The Hamas government voiced defiance, vowing to fight “until the last breath” if Israel invaded. “Our people will defeat those tanks,” Ismail Haniya vowed in a televised speech. (Middle East Online, Jan. 1)
See our last post on Gaza.
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