Friday, 2 January 2009

Israel says truce would legitimize Hamas

Israel claims that declaring a truce in the wake of its weeklong incursion into the Gaza Strip would stack the odds in favor of Hamas.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Thursday that agreeing to a French-proposed cease-fire in the Gaza Strip would give Hamas legitimacy and time to retaliate.

She said that the Israeli saturation bombing of the Palestinian territory is mainly aimed at weakening Hamas and "changing the reality" in the region.

"I think that even now, after a few days of operation we have achieved changes," she said, adding that the offensive on Gaza will continue until Israel no longer deems the resistance movement a threat.

Israeli air strikes rocked the Gaza Strip for a seventh straight day on Friday. The air attacks have so far left 430 Palestinians dead and more than 2250 wounded -- many of whom are women and children.

Tel Aviv says the attacks are aimed at stopping rocket attacks on Israeli communities. Hamas began launching rocket attacks against Israel in the wake of Tel Aviv violating a six-month ceasefire with the Palestinian movement.

Israeli warplanes reportedly bombed the house of Imad Aqil, a senior Hamas member, in a new wave of air raids on the besieged sliver on Friday.

On Thursday, Hamas official Nizar Rayan and 18 members of his family were killed after an Israeli F-16 fired two missiles at his house in the Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip where the powerful explosion leveled the five-story apartment building.

Israel also bombed a mosque in the same region on Friday -- the eighth mosque torn down by Israeli fighter jets over the past seven days -- giving rise to protests across the Muslim world.

Israel has rejected world appeals for an emergency forty-eight-hour ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid into the impoverished strip.

"There is no humanitarian crisis in the Strip, and therefore there is no need for a humanitarian truce," said Livni, adding that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is "completely as it should be".

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