Israeli Air Strikes Hit Government Compounds in Gaza

December 30th, 2008

Israel has launched at least 30 simultaneous missiles strikes on Hamas installations in Gaza City, causing heavy damage. F-16 fighters targeted security compounds in the City’s centre.

The “massive” air strikes on Saturday have claimed at least at least 170 lives, including Gaza police chief Maj. Gen. Tawfiq Jaber. More than 250 were injured, while others were still buried under the rubble, according to Health Ministry officer Moawiya Hassanain. Gaza City hospitals, including Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s main treatment center, are crowded with wounded victims.

Thirteen rockets and mortar shells had also hit southern Israel on Friday, damaging an unoccupied house. Two children, one aged five and the other 12, were killed while four other family members were injured. Palestinian militants reportedly fired several rockets into southern Israel on same day at their house in northern Gaza.

Meanwhile, Hamas declared it would retaliate, by launching rocket attacks on and sending suicide bombers to Israel. “Hamas will continue the resistance until the last drop of blood,” warned Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Hamas’ rival, says he “condemns this aggression” and calls for restraint.

Qassam rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hits southern Ashkelon in Israel.
When the Egyptian-mediated truce terminated last week, Israel warned of their potential to launch a major offensive on Gaza, amid senior leaders’ call to topple Hamas. “I will not hesitate to use Israel’s strength to strike at Hamas and Islamic Jihad,” Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced on Thursday, issuing a dire warning that “tens of thousands of children and innocents” would be at risk “as a result of Hamas’ actions.” Defense Minister Ehud Barak says Israel has temporarily opened some border crossings Friday to allow humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip in response to the international community’s pleas.

Two hours after IAF missiles targeted Hamas installations in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian gunmen launched on Saturday a massive attack with Qassam rockets on Israeli territory. Seven struck Ashkelon, killing one person, while another suffered serious injuries, and four others were moderately wounded when their house was hit. They were rushed to the Soroka hospital in Beersheva.

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