UN HQ Ablazed Update: Hamas Leader Killed

Posted: January 16, 2009 in Life, World
Tags: , , , ,
Hamas leader killed

Confirmed: Hamas leader killed

Hamas officials confirmed the death of Interior Minister Saeed Seyyam.

A top aide, Seyyam’s brother and his brother’s family were also killed in the attack on a house in the Jabalya refugee camp, as reported on SkyNews.

It comes as Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said the shelling of the UN headquarters in Gaza had been ‘a grave mistake’ which was being taken ‘very seriously’.

Diplomatic efforts to broker a deal to end the fighting are continuing in Cairo tonight.

Hamas has told Egyptian mediators it would agree to a year-long renewable ceasefire in Gaza if Israel pulls out all its forces within five to seven days and reopens border crossings immediately, sources said.

In its proposal to Israel, Hamas demanded the opening of all of Gaza’s border crossings be guaranteed by Egypt and the international community.

Hamas told Egypt it was open to the deployment of Turkish monitors but objected to a proposal that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ presidential guard be stationed at the Rafah crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.

An Israeli official said the country’s leaders would decide on their next move following a briefing by their envoy, senior Israeli defence official Amos Gilad, who has met Egyptian mediators in Cairo.

Hamas’ armed wing has vowed to avenge the death of Seyyam, an interior minister who was in charge of 13,000 police and security officials, and a Hamas official in Damascus, Mohammed Nazzal, insisted the killing of its leaders will not make the militant group budge on its tough stance toward Israel.

The Israeli army has confirmed the airstrike.

Israel has said it attacked the United Nations building after coming under fire from Palestinian militants within the compound.

The Israeli artillery attack set the compound on fire, destroyed tons of food and humanitarian supplies and forced hundreds of refugees sheltering inside to flee.

Israel says it does not target UN buildings or personnel but a senior military officer has said Israeli troops opened fire after militants shot anti-tank weapons and machine guns from inside.

Throughout its 20-day offensive in Gaza, Israel has accused Hamas militants of hiding in civilian areas to stage attacks.

But UN official John Ging, who was in the compound at the time, called the Israeli account ‘nonsense’.

And Chris Gunness of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) told Sky News hundreds of people were taking refuge inside the compound when it was hit by ‘three white phosphorus’ shells.

The chemical weapons cannot be put out by fire extinguishers and are banned from use in wars in civilian areas under the 1980 Geneva protocol.

UN chief Ban Ki-Moon said he was outraged by the Israeli strike.

‘I have conveyed my strong protest and outrage and demanded a full explanation from the defence minister and foreign minister,’ Mr Ban told reporters in Tel Aviv.

Mr Ban said Defence Minister Ehud Barak had assured him the incident had been ‘a grave mistake’ which was being taken ‘very seriously.’

‘He assured me that extra caution will be given to UN facilities and staff and that this will not be repeated,’ he said.

Mr Barak pointed the finger of blame at Hamas.

‘Hamas uses Palestinian civilians as human shields and fires at IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) soldiers from sites adjacent to UN complexes,’ he was quoted as saying.

The headquarters of several media organisations have also reportedly been hit, injuring two cameramen.

The number of dead in Gaza has reached an ‘unbearable point’, he said, insisting elements are in place for the fighting to end ‘now’.

Mr Ban said he expected Israel to make an important decision on Thursday on whether to stop firing in the Gaza Strip.

Israel has said it will not agree to a truce which would allow Hamas to regroup and rearm. It is trying to stop Hamas firing rockets into Israel.

According to Gaza’s health ministry, more than 1,000 Palestinians -around half of them civilians- have been killed during the fighting.

Thirteen Israelis have also been killed -10 soldiers and three civilians hit by Hamas rocket fire.

P/S: 1,000 Palestinians to 13 Israelis. You do the calculation as to what is fair and who’s the real bully here. . .

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