Friday 2 January 2009

Israel Raid Kills 3 Children in Gaza; Toll Reaches 430

Israeli occupation army escalated Friday its massive aggression against the Gaza Strip as the death toll in the seven-day blitz reached at least 430 after three brothers aged seven to ten were killed in an Israeli raid on southern Gaza. The boys were identified as Abdelsattar, Mohamad and Ayad Al-Astal and according to witnesses, the three brothers were playing outside their home when an Israeli missle directly targeted them and rendered one of them into pieces.

Earlier, four Palestinians, including two children, joined the procession of martyrs in more Israeli raids on the Strip. The injured have exceeded 2280 persons.

Israeli daily Haaretz said that the Israeli Air Force attacked 20 Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip early. Before dawn, Israeli aircrafts hit 15 houses belonging to Hamas members. Twelve people were hurt in the attacks, hospital officials said.

IAF aircraft late Thursday struck a mosque in the Jabaliya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, the seventh targeted so far since last Saturday. The strikes also hit the parliament and justice ministry.

Earlier Thursday, an Israeli aircraft assassinated a high-ranking Hamas official, Nizar Rayyan, in Gaza along with 14 members of his family, including at least 10 children, in the first major assassination since the occupation army launched “Operation Cast Lead”. An Israeli occupation army Spokesman claimed that Rayyan's house had served as a “weapons silo” and a war operations room for Hamas.

Hamas leader Ismail Radwan said Israel would regret its attacks. While they "are intended to break our will, they won't," he said on television. "This cowardly enemy must realize that he will regret these crimes against our people."

According to sources from the Israeli defense establishment, decision-makers are increasingly inclined to order a ground invasion into Gaza. Israeli tanks and troops massed for a ground offensive and no ceasefire was in sight. The army occupation army said it’s all-set for a rapid deployment in the area as soon as the order is given. The military leadership is recommending a major, but relatively short-term, ground offensive against the Gaza Strip. Speaking in Beersheva, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel is "not interested in conducting a long war" but insisted "we will deal with Hamas and terror with an iron fist."

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni rejected calls for a 48-hour "humanitarian pause" and told her French counterpart, Bernard Kouchner, that Hamas must not be given the opportunity to gain any sort of legitimacy in the framework of a renewal of truce. Under the current offensive, she said, Hamas understands that Israel will not tolerate Gaza rocket fire without response.

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