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Israel strikes key Hamas offices

Whoopie dang
User ID: 143140
12/29/2008 06:11 AM
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Israel strikes key Hamas offices
Israeli air raids have pounded the Gaza Strip for a third day, hitting key sites linked to militant group Hamas.

Gaza's interior ministry and Islamic University were the latest targets.

Foreign minister Tzipi Livni said Israel was determined to "change realities" in Gaza, amid expectations it might launch a ground invasion.

Hamas says 300 Palestinians have died since Saturday, while the UN says 56 civilians are dead. In Israel, a second person was killed by a militant rocket.

Israel has massed forces along the border and has declared the area around Gaza a "closed military zone".

312 - Official Gaza toll (source: Hamas)
56 civilians in Gaza (source: UN, hostpitals)
2 civilians in Israel (source: Israel police)

Israel looks for knockout blow
In pictures: Third day of raids

Correspondents say the move - in addition to the call-up of thousands of reservists - could be a prelude to ground operations. However, it could also be intended to build pressure on Hamas.

Other centres of Hamas strength, including security compounds, government offices and tunnels into Egypt, have been hit since Israel started its massive bombing campaign on Saturday morning.

As dawn broke on Monday, witnesses said a powerful explosion struck the interior ministry.

Earlier, a raid destroyed a science building at the Islamic University in Gaza - a centre of support for the Islamist militant group that controls the narrow coastal strip. Many top Hamas officials graduated from there.

The UN relief agency in Gaza says 56 civilians have been killed by Israeli fire so far, the latest being five girls who died in Jabalia refugee camp when Israeli forces bombed a mosque near their home.

The head of the emergency services in the Hamas-run coastal strip said that 312 Palestinians had been killed in all, and more than 1,400 others wounded.

The latest fatality in Israel was reported to be an Israeli-Arab building worker in the city of Ashkelon, which was hit be a medium-range Grad missile that also seriously wounded three people.

'Successful operation'

On Sunday, Israel bombed smuggling tunnels in southern Gaza used by Palestinians to bring food and other supplies from Egypt - including weapons, Israel says - past the Israeli blockade of the territory.

Israeli troops near the border with Gaza, 28/12/2008
Israel has permanent military positions on alert outside Gaza

Grief and fear in Gaza
Aid worker diary: Gaza raids
Rocket attacks plague Israeli towns

As jets pounded southern Gaza, hundreds of Palestinians tried to storm a fence on the Egypt border, but Egyptian security forces fired shots to prevent them entering.

An Egyptian security official was shot dead and another wounded in the turmoil which followed.

At the UN, the Security Council joined international calls for restraint by urging an end to all violence between Israel and Gaza.

The US, Israel's strongest ally on the council, said the onus was on Hamas to stop rocket fire.

Israel says Palestinian militants have fired more than 110 rockets from the coast territory since Saturday.

The strikes began on Saturday less than a week after the expiry of a six-month-long ceasefire deal with Hamas.

Israel has hit all Gaza's main towns, including Gaza City in the north and Khan Younis and Rafah in the south.

"We took Hamas by surprise, we targeted Hamas headquarters, so this is the beginning of a successful operation, I hope, but the idea is to change realities on the ground," Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told the BBC on Sunday.

Analysts said Saturday was the single deadliest day in Gaza since Israel's occupation of the territory in 1967, although no independent confirmation is available of the numbers killed.

The violence began days after a six-month truce expired between Israel and Hamas, and as Israel was preparing for a general election in February.

The exiled leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, has called for a new intifada, or uprising, against Israel, while the movement's Gaza leader, Ismail Haniya, called the attack an "ugly massacre".

Attacks over the Gaza-Israel border regularly put the truce under strain with both sides blaming each other for unprovoked violations.

From 1967 Israel's military occupied the Gaza Strip and Jewish settlers built communities within the territory. Israel withdrew in 2005 but has kept tight control over access in and out of Gaza and its airspace.
[link to news.bbc.co.uk]
Anonymous Coward (OP)
User ID: 143140
12/29/2008 07:04 AM
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Re: Israel strikes key Hamas offices
Anonymous Coward
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12/29/2008 07:08 AM
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Re: Israel strikes key Hamas offices