Posts Tagged ‘gaza attacks’

An Israeli left wing activist holds a sign during a protest against the Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, Jan. 10, 2009. Israeli forces pounded rocket-launching sites and smuggling tunnels in Gaza Saturday and planes dropped leaflets warning of an escalation in attacks, as Palestinian militants fired at least 15 more rockets at Israel. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

An Israeli left wing activist holds a sign during a protest against the Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, Jan. 10, 2009. Israeli forces pounded rocket-launching sites and smuggling tunnels in Gaza Saturday and planes dropped leaflets warning of an escalation in attacks, as Palestinian militants fired at least 15 more rockets at Israel. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Israel dropped bombs and leaflets on Gaza on Saturday, pounding suspected rocket sites and tunnels used by Hamas militants and warning of a wider offensive despite frantic diplomacy to end the bloodshed.

According to The Associated Press(AP), Egypt hosted talks aimed at defusing the crisis, but war had the momentum on a bloody day on which more than 30 Palestinians, many of them noncombatants, were killed, according to Gaza medics. Hamas fighters launched 15 rockets at southern Israel, injuring three Israelis in the city of Ashkelon, the Israeli military said.

At hospitals, distraught relatives -men in jeans and jackets and women in black Islamic robes- sobbed and shrieked at the loss of family. Flames and smoke rose over Gaza City amid heavy fighting.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas predicted a ‘waterfall of blood’ unless all parties adhere to a United Nations call for a cease-fire. But Israel has said the Security Council resolution passed Thursday was unworkable and Hamas, the Islamic group whose government controls Gaza but is not recognized internationally, was angry that it was not consulted.

Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal made a fiery speech on Arab news channel Al-Jazeera, describing the Israeli assault as a ‘holocaust.’ Still, Hamas teams were in Cairo to discuss a cease-fire proposed by Egypt.

At least 814 Palestinians, roughly half of them civilians, have died since war broke out on Dec. 27, according to Palestinian medical officials. Thirteen Israelis, including 10 soldiers, have been killed.

Weary Palestinians watched from apartment windows as thousands of leaflets fluttered from aircraft with a blunt warning: Israeli forces will step up operations against Islamic militants who have unleashed a daily barrage of rocket fire on southern Israeli towns.

‘The IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) is not working against the people of Gaza but against Hamas and the terrorists only,’ the leaflets said in Arabic. “Stay safe by following our orders.’

The leaflets urged Gaza residents not to help Hamas and to stay away from its members. There was no immediate sign of an escalation, though earlier in the day, witnesses said Israeli troops moved to within one mile of Gaza City before pulling back slightly.

Israeli defense officials say they are prepared for a third stage of their offensive, in which ground troops would push further into Gaza, but are waiting for approval from the government. Early on Sunday, Israeli tanks were heard moving near the central Gaza border as Israeli artilley pounded the area, indicating the possibility of a larger operation.

Palestinian witnesses said Israeli forces fired phosphorus shells at Khouza, a village near the border, setting a row of houses on fire. Hospital official Dr. Yusuf Abu Rish said a woman was killed and more than 100 injured, most suffering from gas inhalation and burns. Israeli military spokesman Capt. Guy Spigelman categorically dened the claims.

The Israeli military said it did not know of such an incident. Also, Hamas security officials said fierce battles were in progress early Sunday in eastern Gaza City and northern Gaza.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were discussing classified information, said the army also has a fourth stage planned that calls for a full reoccupation of Gaza and toppling of Hamas.

The leaflets reflected Israeli efforts to cast Hamas as the source of the conflict that has brought additional misery to Gaza’s 1.4 million people, who live in poverty in the densely inhabited shard of land along the Mediterranean. Israel hopes the suffering will erode support for Hamas, which won 2006 elections and engineered a violent takeover of Gaza in June 2007, overrunning the forces of its Palestinian rival Fatah.

For now, though, the fury of the Israeli onslaught has deepened bitterness toward Israel among trapped Gaza residents. Traffic through border crossings with Egypt and Israel is heavily restricted, and many Gazans survive on international handouts or goods smuggled through tunnels that are also used by Hamas to bring in weapons.

Israel launched the offensive on Dec. 27 after years of Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel, and has attributed many civilian casualties in the past two weeks to Hamas’s alleged use of civilian areas as hiding places and staging grounds for attacks.

On Jan. 3, Israeli ground troops moved into Gaza, but they have largely avoided deployment in built-up areas where they would be more vulnerable to hit-and-run assaults. Israel holds elections in one month, and its leaders know staunch support for the military campaign could dwindle if the forces take heavy casualties.

The 15 rockets launched at southern Israel are part of a daily ritual that has severely disrupted life for hundreds of thousands of civilians. Three Israelis were injured in the city of Ashkelon.

The Israeli military said aircraft attacked more than 40 Hamas targets including 10 rocket-launching sites, weapons-storage facilities, smuggling tunnels, an anti-aircraft missile launcher and gunmen. At least 15 militants were killed, it said.

In the day’s bloodiest incident, an Israeli tank shell killed nine people in a garden outside a home in the northern Gaza town of Jebaliya, said Adham el-Hakim, administrator of Kamal Adwan hospital. The nine were from the same clan and included two children and two women.

The Israeli military, however, said its forces did not carry out attacks in that area on Saturday.

Struggling to keep peace efforts alive, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Abbas urged Israel and Hamas to agree to a truce.

After meeting Mubarak, Abbas warned there was no time to waste in ending the bloodshed in Gaza.

‘If any party does not accept it (the truce), regrettably it will be the one bearing the responsibility. And if Israel doesn’t want to accept, it will take the responsibility of perpetuating a waterfall of blood,’ Abbas said.

Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah party, which dominates the West Bank, are fierce political rivals.

Hamas officials from both Gaza and Syria are also in Cairo for separate talks with Egyptian officials on a truce. Israeli officials were in Cairo earlier this week.

U.S. President George W. Bush spoke by telephone to President Abdullah Gul of Turkey, which is involved in Mideast peace efforts, about the situation in Gaza, said a spokesman for the National Security Council in Washington.

‘President Bush emphasized the importance of bringing an end to rocket fire against Israel and preventing arms smuggling into Gaza as the basis for a durable cease-fire,’ spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, on a peace mission to the region, visited the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt and saw a fireball from a large detonation in Gaza. He felt the pressure from the blast, which caused windows to rattle.

‘We are standing here while the fighting is still on back there,’ said Steinmeier, who later traveled to Israel. ‘It is right and correct to be concerned about the injured and the dead, but the European foreign ministers must do more so that words can be turned into deeds.’

The U.N. estimates two-thirds of Gaza’s 1.4 million people now lack electricity, and half don’t have running water.

The Israeli military announced a three-hour halt to operations in Gaza on Saturday to let medics use the lull to rescue casualties and aid groups to rush through food distribution. But for the second straight day, fighting continued even during the lull.

Israel has called for the three-hour breaks in fighting for the past four days. But aid groups say it isn’t enough time to do their work.

Also on Saturday, tens of thousands of people demonstrated in European cities and Lebanon, shouting protests against the Israeli offensive in Gaza.

P/S: Honestly saying, I think the israelis are being diagnose of some hearing problem of somewhat at the current moment when they’re clearly are turning deaf ears to the world shouting at them for cease-fire and peace.

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A Palestinian boy hangs a Palestinian flag on the ruins of a destroyed house after an Israeli air strike in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip January 6, 2009.

A Palestinian boy hangs a Palestinian flag on the ruins of a destroyed house after an Israeli air strike in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip January 6, 2009.

More on the attacks on Gaza City, Gaza, Israel ordered a pause in its Gaza offensive for three hours Wednesday to allow food and fuel to reach besieged Palestinians, and the country’s leaders debated whether to accept an international cease-fire plan or expand the assault against Hamas.

With criticism rising of the operation’s spiraling civilian death toll and Gazans increasingly suffering the effects of nonstop airstrikes and shelling, Israel’s military said opened ‘humanitarian corridors’ to allow aid supplies to reach Palestinians, as was told on The Associated Press (AP).

Israeli military spokesman Peter Lerner said the ‘recess in offensive operations’ was aimed at allowing in supplies and fuel and would last from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m local time (6 a.m. to 9 a.m. EST). He said similar lulls in the coming days would be considered.

However, Lerner said that even during the pause ‘for every attack against the army, there will be a response.’ Gaza residents reported scattered gunfire and explosions even after it was supposed to have gone into effect, but the scale of fighting appeared to drop.

As Israel’s leadership met in the morning in Tel Aviv, sounds of heavy gunfire and thick plumes of smoke engulfed the Zeitoun neighborhood east of Gaza City. Israel said it struck 40 Hamas targets during the hours of darkness. Gaza health officials said new strikes Wednesday morning killed eight people.

Outrage over an Israeli strike Tuesday near a U.N. school continued, with the U.N. agency responsible for the building demanding an ‘impartial investigation’ into the attack. Gaza health officials put the death toll from the strike at 39, while the U.N. said 40 were killed.

Israel said its forces fired at militants who launched mortars from that location.

About 300 of the more than 670 Palestinians killed so far are civilians, according to Palestinian and U.N. figures. Of those killed, at least 130 are children age 16 and under, says the Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights, which tracks casualties.

Israel has lost six soldiers since launching a ground offensive on Saturday, and four other Israelis have been killed by rocket fire, three of them civilians.
Israel’s lull in operations could ease the plight of civilians in Gaza, where much of the territory has no power or running water, because pumps are dependent on electricity.

More than 500 aid trucks have been shipped into Gaza since operations began. But even when aid crosses into Gaza military operations have prevented officials from distributing it, leading to food shortages in some areas.

A World Bank statement Wednesday said there are growing signs of a severe public health crisis in Gaza because of a shortage of drinking water and an escalating failure of the sewage system.

Israel’s leaders -including the top troika of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak- were to discuss whether to broaden the operation in Gaza or move to accept a plan being proposed by Egypt and France to end the fighting.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said the initiative calls for an immediate cease-fire by Israel and Palestinian factions for a limited period to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza and an urgent meeting of Israel and the Palestinian side on arrangements to prevent any repetition of military action and to deal with the causes.

International Mideast envoy Tony Blair said Tuesday the key to any cease-fire will be an arrangement to stop weapons smuggling over the Gaza-Egypt border.

Israeli officials have said any cease-fire agreement must prevent further rocket attacks by Gaza militants and put in place measures to prevent the smuggling of missile and other weapons into the small Palestinian territory. Hamas has demanded that Israel open Gaza’s blockaded crossings as part of any agreement.

In the meantime, Israel has been making preparations to continue fighting. The military has called up thousands of reserve troops that it could use to expand the Gaza offensive, supporting the three brigade-size formations of regular troops now inside. Defense officials said the troops could be ready for action by Friday. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the army’s preparations are classified.

The United Nations said the school was sheltering hundreds of people displaced by the onslaught on Hamas militants. Israel said its troops returned fire on a Hamas squad that fired mortars at them from nearby.

Christopher Gunness of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, responsible for the school, said the agency is ‘99.9 percent certain there were no militants or military activity in its school.’

The Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights said the presence of militants did not justify Israel’s response. ‘The presence of armed resistance does not justify in any way the use of excessive force that is disproportionate,’ the center said in a statement.

The carnage, which included 55 wounded, added to a surging civilian toll and drew mounting international pressure for Israel to end the offensive against Hamas.

Israeli missiles launched into Gaza Strip aimed at the death and destruction of the Palestinian people. Nearly 500 people have been massacred in the latest fighting.

Israeli missiles launched into Gaza Strip aimed at the death and destruction of the Palestinian people. Nearly 500 people have been massacred in the latest fighting.

Israel ignored mounting international calls for a cease-fire and said it won’t stop its crippling 10-day assault until “peace and tranquility” are achieved in southern Israeli towns in the line of Palestinian rocket fire.

Israeli forces seized control of high-rise buildings Monday and attacked smuggling tunnels and several mosques in a relentless campaign against Hamas militants that took an increasing toll on civilians.

As reported by The Associated Press(AP), The United Nations said at least 500 people have died in the Gaza fighting, about a quarter of them civilians.

In fighting that raged early Tuesday morning, at least 18 people were killed in shelling up and down the strip, local hospital officials said. Only two could be immediately confirmed as militants.

Israel also suffered casualties. Late Monday, three Israeli soldiers were killed by what Israeli officials said was an errant tank round from one of its own guns.
Shortly after sunrise Tuesday, three rockets fired from Gaza fell in southern Israel, but there were no reported casualties.

Arab delegates met with the U.N. Security Council in New York, urging members to adopt a resolution calling for an immediate end to the attacks and a permanent cease-fire.

At the same time, diplomats and European leaders traveled the region in an effort to stop Israel’s expanding ground and air offensive.

In a serious urban clash, Israeli troops and Hamas militants fought a gunbattle on the outskirts of the crowded Gaza City neighborhood of Shajaiyeh, Israeli defense officials said.

Details also emerged of an unsuccessful attempt by Hamas fighters to capture Israeli soldiers hours after the ground operation began Saturday with a withering round of artillery fire.

Military spokesman Brig. Gen. Avi Benayahu told Israeli TV the assault was going according to plan with forces sweeping through Palestinian rocket launching locations near the border.

Despite Israeli claims that casualties have been heavy among militants, no injured Hamas fighters were seen Monday by an Associated Press reporter at Shifa Hospital, the Gaza Strip’s largest. Instead, the hospital was overwhelmed with civilians. Bodies were two to a morgue drawer, and the wounded were being treated in hallways because beds were full.

At least 20 Palestinian children were killed during the day Monday, said Dr. Moaiya Hassanain, a health official. Most confirmed deaths have been civilians.

Three brothers died in an attack on a town outside Gaza City, a Gaza health official said. They were carried to a cemetery in an emotional funeral. One of them, Issa Samouni, 3, was wrapped in a white cloth, showing only his pale, yellow face. A man delicately placed him in a dark grave cut into the earth.

Overnight, six civilians were killed when a shell fired by an Israeli ship hit their house on the Gaza shore, hospital officials said. Local residents said the gunboat apparently fired at a group of Islamic Jihad militants next to the house who were preparing to ambush advancing Israeli troops. Two of the militants were killed in the blast.

Palestinians said Israeli attacks intensified before dawn Tuesday and at least 10 more civilians were killed when shells hit houses on the edge of Gaza City and in the Jebaliya refugee camp, north of the city.

Later, five civilians were killed when a shell fired by an Israeli ship hit their house on the Gaza shore, hospital officials said. Palestinians said Israeli attacks intensified before dawn Tuesday.

Gaza health officials reported that since the campaign began on Dec. 27 more than 550 Palestinians have been killed and 2,500 wounded, including 200 civilians. U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes put the Palestinian toll at 500, with about 125 of them civilians.

Holmes called the Gaza strife an ‘increasingly alarming’ humanitarian crisis, directly contradicting Israeli denials that its offensive caused the growing problem. He said Gaza is running low on clean water, power, food, medicine and other supplies since Israel began its offensive.

Israeli leaders have maintained there is no humanitarian crisis, and that they have been delivering vital supplies.

Late Monday, the Israeli military said three soldiers were killed and 24 others wounded by friendly fire when a tank shell hit their position outside Gaza City. The military said a colonel who commanded an infantry brigade was among the injured.

Israeli defense officials said earlier that one soldier was killed when soldiers fought off an attempt by Hamas fighters to capture Israeli soldiers hours after the ground operation began.

They said the infantrymen were advancing up a strategic hill before dawn Sunday when militants emerged from a tunnel and tried to drag two Israeli infantrymen inside.

Hamas already holds one Israeli soldier, captured in June 2006, and another would be an important bargaining chip.

That death and the three soldiers killed by friendly fire brought to eight the number of Israelis killed since the offensive began. One other soldier and three civilians were killed during the initial air phase of the offensive.

Israeli officials are concerned that heavy casualties amoung its troops could undermine what has so far been overwhelming public support for the operation.

In Shajaiyeh, troops seized control of three six-story buildings on the outskirts, climbing to rooftop gun and observation positions, Israeli defense officials said. Residents were locked in their rooms and soldiers took away their cell phones, a neighbor said, quoting a relative who called before his phone was seized.

‘The army is there, firing in all directions,’ said Mohammed Salmai, a 29-year-old truck driver. ‘All we can do is take clothes to each other to keep ourselves warm and pray to God that if we die, someone will find our bodies under the rubble.’

Fighter jets attacked houses, weapons storage sites, a pair of mosques and smuggling tunnels, as they have since the start of the offensive. Israel has attacked several mosques during the campaign, saying they were used to store weapons.

In another strategic move, Israeli forces seized a main highway in Gaza, slicing the territory in two.

Israeli forces detained 80 Palestinians -some of them suspected Hamas members- and transferred several to Israel for questioning, said military officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to release the information.

The Gaza City area was rocked by shelling from both sides as gunboats in the sea and artillery and tanks closing in from the east unloaded thunderous fire.

After dark, the shelling reached deeper into residential areas. Fireballs lit up the horizon to the east, setting off blazes on the ground and silhouetting Gaza’s tall buildings. Tracer fire ripped across the skyline.

The State Department said the U.S. was pressing for a cease-fire that would include a halt to rocket attacks and an arrangement for reopening crossing points on the border with Israel, said spokesman Sean McCormack. A third element would address the tunnels into Gaza from Egypt through which Hamas has smuggled materials and arms.

President George W. Bush emphasized ‘Israel’s desire to protect itself.’

‘The situation now taking place in Gaza was caused by Hamas,’ he said.

The deputy head of Hamas’ politburo in Syria, Moussa Abu Marzouk, rejected the U.S. proposal, telling the AP the U.S. plan seeks to impose ‘a de facto situation’ and encourages Israel to continue its attacks on Gaza.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who unsuccessfully proposed a two-day truce last week, met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who lost control of Gaza to Hamas in June 2007.

Europe ‘wants a cease-fire as quickly as possible,’ Sarkozy said after meeting Abbas, urging Israel to halt the offensive, while blaming Hamas for acting ‘irresponsibly and unpardonably.’

A European Union delegation met with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

‘The EU insists on a cease-fire at the earliest possible moment,’ said Karel Schwarzenberg, the foreign minister of the Czech Republic, which took over the EU’s presidency last week from France. Rocket attacks on Israel also must stop, Schwarzenberg told a news conference with Livni.

The EU brought no truce proposals of its own because the cease-fire ‘must be concluded by the involved parties,’ he added.

As the bruising campaign entered its 10th day Monday, Hamas pummeled southern Israel with more than 30 rockets and promised to wait for Israeli soldiers ‘in every street and every alleyway.’

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the offensive would go on until Israel achieved ‘peace and tranquility’ for residents of southern Israel.

One of the rockets struck a large outdoor market that was closed at the time in the town of Sderot, just across Gaza’s northeastern border. Another hit a kindergarten in the coastal city of Ashdod, north of the strip. The kindergarten, like schools across southern Israel, was closed and empty because of the rocket threat.

Israel has three main demands: an end to Palestinian attacks, international supervision of any truce, and a halt to Hamas rearming. Hamas demands an end to Israeli attacks and the opening of border crossings to vital cargo.

Livni said the operation was designed to change the rules of Israel’s struggle against Hamas after years of firing rockets at Israel. From now on, she said, ‘when Israel is targeted, Israel is going to retaliate.’

Israeli military spokeswoman Maj. Avital Leibovich said Hamas was to blame for civilian casualties because it operates in densely populated areas.

‘If Hamas chose cynically to use those civilians as human shields, then Hamas should be accountable,’ she said.

Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar exhorted Palestinians to fight the Israeli forces and target Israeli civilians and Jews abroad.

‘The Zionists have legitimized the killing of their children by killing our children. They have legitimized the killing of their people all over the world by killing our people,’ Zahar said in a grainy video broadcast on Hamas TV.

Israel’s operation has sparked anger across the Arab world and has drawn criticism from countries such as Turkey, Egypt and Jordan, which have ties with Israel and have been intimately involved in Mideast peacemaking.

In Beirut, Lebanon, protesters tried to pull away barbed wire blocking their path to the U.S. Embassy. They were driven back with heavy blasts of water.