Posts Tagged ‘israel missile raids’

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. . .

One of the banners at the protest, the feelings of a human being towards humanity however doesn't occur on the Israelis.

One of the banners at the protest, the feelings of a human being towards humanity however doesn't occur on the Israelis.

The Associated Press(AP) has reported today that some 3,000 Malaysians protested on Friday against Israel’s invasion of Gaza, burning Israeli flags and effigies of President George W. Bush.

The mainly Muslim protesters, waving Palestinian flags and chanting anti-Israel slogans, marched to the U.S. Embassy in downtown Kuala Lumpur from a nearby mosque after Friday prayers.

They called on the U.S. to use its influence to stop Israel’s military offensive on Gaza, which has left more than 750 people dead -at least half of them civilians, according to Gaza health officials. Thirteen Israelis have died.

Israel has defended its two-week operation, saying it wants to stop rocket attacks from Hamas-controlled Gaza into Israeli territory.

‘The killing continues. … We are urging the American government to demand that Israel withdraw from Gaza,’ said Adnan Mohamad Tahir, an activist.

The protesters, who burned two Israeli flags and effigies of Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, dispersed after an hour.

The United States abstained from a U.N. Security Council resolution passed Thursday that called for a cease-fire.

Malaysia’s government, which has no diplomatic ties with Israel, has condemned Israel’s ground offensive as a ‘an act of total war.’ On Thursday, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi called for international sanctions on Israel.

In Hong Kong, several hundred people outside a mosque chanted slogans and held placards reading, ‘Stop the Israeli Attacks on Gaza’ and ‘Stop Killing Children and Innocent.’

P/S:  The protest is still going on today in Selangor, Malaysia at The  Melawati Stadium. FREE PALESTINE!

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.

Reuters reported that Israel rejected a U.N. resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza on Friday and, as jets and tanks again pounded the Palestinian enclave, ministers debated whether to step up their two-week-old campaign against Hamas guerrillas.

With the civilian death toll in the hundreds and rising amid outraged denunciations of Israel from the Red Cross, United Nations agencies and Arab and European governments, diplomats also sounded an alarm that Egyptian-brokered truce talks launched this week might also be foundering.

Israel’s air force said it hit over 50 targets. Palestinian medics counted at least 18 dead, including civilians.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert rejected the Security Council resolution calling for an “‘immediate and durable’ cease-fire as ‘unworkable.’ He issued his statement while a meeting with his security cabinet continued, looking at whether to send in reservists for a push into the main urban centres.

Israeli warplanes dropped bombs on the outskirts of the city of Gaza, residents said. Elsewhere, Palestinian medics said tanks shelled a house in Beit Lahiya in the north of the Gaza Strip, killing six Palestinians from the same family.

A U.N. agency said in a report that 30 Palestinians were killed earlier this week when the Israeli army sheltered dozens of civilians in a house which was later hit by shells.

Noting Palestinians fired more rockets at Israel on Friday, Olmert said the army would go on with its mission.

‘The firing of rockets this morning only goes to show that the U.N. decision is unworkable and will not be adhered to by the murderous Palestinian organisations,’ he said.

‘The IDF will continue to act in order to protect the citizens of Israel and will achieve the goals that were set for the operation.’

Israel says it wants to stop rockets landing on its towns. At least 14 were fired on Friday, fewer than the dozens Hamas was able to launch in the early days of the war. Hamas officials said they were looking at the U.N. resolution.

Israel’s key ally the United States abstained in the U.N. vote, easing the pressure on the Jewish state, while noting talks on a truce were still under way under Egyptian mediation.

TALKS IN TROUBLE

That Egyptian initiative, brokered by French President Nicolas Sarkozy earlier in the week, may be in trouble, however.

‘The truce talks are going nowhere at the moment,’ a senior European diplomat told Reuters. ‘There is a growing sense that the Egyptian-French plan is not going to work.’

European and Israeli diplomats told Reuters that Egypt was objecting to proposals that foreign troops and technicians be stationed on its 15-km border with the Gaza Strip as part of a deal to meet Israeli demands that Hamas be denied the opportunity to rearm after a truce through smuggling tunnels.

Instead, diplomats said, Egypt was ready to accept technical assistance for its own forces on the border, which Israel argues have hitherto failed to prevent Hamas building up an arsenal of hundreds of smuggled, Soviet-designed Katyusha missiles as well as, possibly, sophisticated anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons.

Olmert’s security cabinet on Wednesday put off a decision on whether to launch a massive escalation of the offensive on Hamas guerrillas by moving troops in a third phase deep into urban areas, a move that would mean calling in reservists. Officials said ministers were discussing the proposal again on Friday.

The onslaught in Gaza, where many civilians including children have been killed, has solid support among Israeli voters who go to the polls in a month. A poll on Friday showed over 90 percent support among Israel’s Jewish majority.

A poll showed that Defence Minister Ehud Barak’s Labour party has held on to sharp gains it has made since war began, though it still trails Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni’s Kadima, which is running close behind the right-wing Likud opposition. Benjamin Netanyahu, Likud’s leader, has also thrown strong support behind the war.

Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, governed by Hamas’s rival Fatah movement under President Mahmoud Abbas, have been enraged by the Israeli offensive, and Israeli forces and Abbas’s police were on high alert on Friday, although there were only minor clashes around weekly prayers at mosques.

Several thousand people demonstrated and burnt Israeli flags in Hebron, a Hamas stronghold in the West Bank.

CASUALTIES

The Israeli air force hit at least 50 targets across the enclave, including launching pads for rockets and facilities used to manufacture rockets, an army spokesman said.

Israel’s military commanders appeared keen to pursue what was termed a third stage of the operation with additional ground troops being sent into the heart of Gaza’s built-up areas to flush out more gunmen and to try to secure more gains.

The Israeli army said it was, for the third day running, holding fire for three hours from 1 p.m. to let people stock up on food and other supplies.

Gaza’s Hamas rulers sent mixed signals about the resolution. Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha said the group did not recognise the resolution as it had not been consulted. Another spokesman said Hamas was ‘studying’ the resolution.

The resolution called for arrangements to prevent arms smuggling into Gaza and for its borders to be opened. It said there should be ‘unimpeded provision’ and distribution of aid to the territory, home to 1.5 million people.

The U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which distributes much of the aid in Gaza, kept its operations suspended on Friday after the death of one of its drivers in Israel’s offensive.

Hamas officials said the Palestinian death toll had risen to 783. Ten soldiers have been killed in the campaign launched by Israel to crush Hamas forces and halt the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel. Israel says it is doing what it can to avoid civilian casualties but accuses Hamas of deliberately placing its fighters close to homes and mosques.

Rockets have killed three Israeli civilians since the offensive began. Israel has said it accepts the ‘principles’ of the cease-fire proposal by Egypt and the European Union, and Washington has urged the Jewish state to study the details.

Approximately 100 Palestinians were bombed after alleged Israelis soldiers evacuated them to a house

Approximately 100 Palestinians were bombed after alleged Israelis soldiers evacuated them to a house

Around 30 people are reported to have been killed in the incident which happened in Zeitoun, south of Gaza city, where Red Cross workers later found four small children next to the corpses of their mothers.

The UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) cited reports of ‘extensive destruction and many deaths’ in the area.

As reported by the ITN, it said: ‘According to several testimonies, on January 4 Israeli foot soldiers evacuated approximately 110 Palestinians into a single residence house in Zeitoun (half of whom were children) warning them to stay indoors’.

‘Twenty-four hours later, Israeli forces shelled the home repeatedly, killing approximately 30.’

The OCHA described it as ‘one of the gravest incidents’ since the start of the Gaza conflict on December 27.

UN Under-Secretary-General for humanitarian affairs John Holmes on Wednesday cited the deaths in Zeitoun as an example of the ‘dreadful incidents that are coming to our notice’ in Gaza.

On Thursday, the International Committee of the Red Cross(ICRC) accused the Israeli military of ‘unacceptable’ delays in allowing rescue workers to reach homes in Zeitoun hit by shelling.

In a strongly-worded statement it said: ‘The ICRC believes that in this instance the Israeli military failed to meet its obligation under international humanitarian law to care for and evacuate the wounded.’

Meanwhile, the United Nations has demanded an immediate ceasefire in the region. The US abstained from the Security Council vote but says it backs the text of the resolution which also calls for a full withdrawal by Israel.

The vote followed days of intense haggling with foreign ministers from Arab nations pressing France, Britain and the US to go along with a resolution rather than a more diluted president’s statement.

It came as the Israeli airstrikes and artillery assaults continued. In one of the latest attacks, six Palestinians from the same family were killed when their house was shelled.

The fighting has now killed more than 750 Palestinians and at least 14 Israelis.

Boycott U.S goodsMore than 2,000 Muslim restaurants in Malaysia will remove Coca-Cola from their menus as part of a boycott of American products in protest against Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, officials said today to a local newspaper,  The Star.

American companies are being targeted because of the U.S. government’s support of Israel, which is carrying out a military offensive on Gaza that is says is aimed at stopping rocket attacks from the Hamas-controlled territory.

The nationwide boycott will be launched Friday by several Muslim groups after they seek God’s blessings at Friday prayers, said Ma’mor Osman, secretary-general of the Malaysian Muslim Consumers Association which is leading the campaign.

In addition to Coca-Cola, he said they have identified some 100 other products ranging from food to beauty and clothing such as Starbucks, Colgate, McDonald’s and Maybelline.

Since the Israeli offensive began, nearly 600 Palestinians, about half of them civilians, have been killed and at least 2,500 people injured, according to U.N. and Palestinian officials. Eleven Israelis have also been killed.

Muslims in Malaysia and worldwide have held demonstrations against the Israeli action but Ma’mor said such protests are futile.

‘A boycott is the best way for us to protest Zionist cruelty against the Palestinian people as consumers can weaken the economy of countries like Israel and its ally, the U.S.,’ he said.

‘We urge everybody who loves peace and is against war to support our campaign. We must send a clear signal to Israel to stop the assaults in Gaza,’ he said.

Some 2,600 restaurants under the Association of Muslim Restaurant Operators will stop selling Coca-Cola from Friday, he added.

The move came after former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, a strident critic of Israel, last week urged consumers and governments to boycott American products and the U.S. dollar.

Israel sent troops and tanks into Hamas-controlled Gaza on Saturday after a weeklong aerial bombardment, sparking outrage among Muslims worldwide.

Malaysia’s government, which has no diplomatic ties with Israel, has denounced Israel’s ground offensive as ‘an act of total war’ which cannot be tolerated.

The United States has also been criticized for blocking approval of a U.N. Security Council statement calling for an immediate cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

P/S: I never much favor coca-cola in the first place so I think this boycott can be done for me. Now I just have to change all my cosmetic products to local’s. That’s right, gosh.

ALL IN THE NAME OF PEACE!

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, right, hugs his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy at the end of a press conference on Tuesday Jan. 6, 2009 in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt. Sarkozy said Wednesday Jan. 7, 2009 that Israel and the Palestinian Authority have accepted an Egyptian-French plan for Gaza.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, right, hugs his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy at the end of a press conference on Tuesday Jan. 6, 2009 in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt. Sarkozy said Wednesday Jan. 7, 2009 that Israel and the Palestinian Authority have accepted an Egyptian-French plan for Gaza.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Israel and Hamas scaled back their fighting in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday and weighed a cease-fire proposal from Egypt and France, even as Israeli leaders considered a deeper assault into the Palestinian group’s urban strongholds.

Fighting on the 12th day of the air, land and sea offensive all but stopped for three hours during a unilateral Israeli pause that allowed humanitarian relief. Israeli officials said they wanted to give diplomacy a chance, indicating that a decision either to end or intensify the operation, aimed at halting rocket fire into Israel, could come by week’s end.

It was the first letup in an Israeli assault that has killed more than 700 Palestinians, of whom the United Nations says more than 400 are civilians. Ten Israelis have been killed since the fighting began, three of them civilians struck by Palestinian rocket fire.

Like Israel, Hamas said it was studying the cease-fire proposal, which is being fleshed out in talks among the United States, Israel, European nations, Egypt and other Arab states. Egypt said it planned to hold separate talks with Israeli and Hamas representatives in Cairo, Egypt, starting today.

‘Given the diplomatic efforts, I am confident that we can agree within 48 hours on a formula both sides can accept,’ Ahmed Yusuf, a senior adviser to the Hamas government in Gaza, told Israel’s Ynet news.

In Jerusalem, Israeli leaders appeared to be seeking a way out of the bloodiest conflict in Gaza since Israel occupied the seaside enclave during the 1967 Middle East War.

Discussion on how to end the operation gained momentum after two events Tuesday: the cease-fire proposal offered by France and Egypt; and the Israeli shelling of a United Nations-run school in Gaza that killed 43 civilians, raising international pressure on Israel to withdraw.

‘Israel has reached an undesirable point,’ Giora Eiland, a retired brigadier general, told Israel Radio. ‘We have become the isolated party.’

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 Army soldiers take cover as a mobile artillery piece fires towards targets in the southern Gaza Strip, on the Israel side of the border with Gaza Tuesday, Jan 6, 2009.

Israeli Army soldiers take cover as a mobile artillery piece fires towards targets in the southern Gaza Strip, on the Israel side of the border with Gaza Tuesday, Jan 6, 2009.

More update on the Israel missile raids from The Associated Press (AP) that Israeli forces edged closer to Gaza’s major population centers on Tuesday and attacked new sites, including a U.N. school, taking more civilian lives after ignoring mounting international calls for an immediate cease-fire. A Palestinian rocket attack wounded an Israeli infant.

The United Nations said three civilians were killed in the airstrike on its school, where hundreds of people from a Gaza City refugee camp had gone to seek shelter from Israel’s blistering 11-day offensive against the Hamas militant group.

The missile landed in a courtyard late Monday, causing minor damage to the building.

U.N. officials say they provided their location coordinates to Israel’s army to ensure that their buildings in Gaza are not targeted. The Israeli army had no comment on the latest strikes, but in the past has accused militants of using schools, mosques and residential neighborhoods to store weapons or launch attacks.

Israel launched its offensive on Dec. 27 to halt repeated Palestinian rocket attacks on its southern towns. After a weeklong air campaign, Israeli ground forces invaded Gaza over the weekend. More than 500 Palestinians have been killed, including more than 100 civilians, according to United Nations figures. Nine Israelis have died since the operation began.

In other fighting early Tuesday, at least 18 Palestinians were killed in shelling from tanks and naval craft, local hospital officials said. Only two of the dead were confirmed as militants.

Tanks rumbled closer to the towns of Khan Younis and Dir el Balah in south and central Gaza but were still several kilometers (miles) outside, witnesses said, adding that the sounds of fighting could be heard from around the new Israeli positions. Israel already has encircled Gaza City, the area’s biggest city.

The rising civilian death toll has drawn international condemnations and raised concerns of a looming humanitarian disaster. Many Gazans are without electricity or running water, thousands have been displaced from their homes and residents say that without distribution disrupted, food supplies are running thin.

Israel says it won’t stop the assault until its southern towns are freed of the threat of Palestinian rocket fire and it receives international guarantees that Hamas, a militant group backed by Iran and Syria, will not restock its weapons stockpile. It blames Hamas for the civilian casualties, saying the group intentionally seeks cover in crowded residential areas.

‘The battle is bitter but unavoidable. We set out on this operation in order to deal Hamas a heavy blow and to alter living conditions in the south of the country and to block smuggling into the Gaza Strip,’ Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

The army says it has dealt a harsh blow to Hamas, killing 130 militants in the past two days and greatly reducing the rocket fire. At least 15 rockets were fired Tuesday and one landed in the town of Gadera, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) from the Gaza border, lightly wounding a 3-month-old infant, police said. At the outset of the fighting, militants launched dozens of rockets each day.

Hamas is believed to have 20,000 fighters.
Israeli forces have cut the main Gaza highway in several places, cutting the strip into northern, southern and central sectors and preventing movement between them. Israel also has taken over high-rise buildings in Gaza City and destroyed dozens of smuggling tunnels —Hamas’ main lifeline— along the Egyptian border.

Late Monday, a paratroop officer and three Israeli infantrymen were killed in two separate friendly fire incidents, the military said. Heavy Israeli casualties could threaten to undermine what so far has been wide public support for the operation.

A high-level European Union delegation met with President Shimon Peres on Tuesday in a futile bid to put an end to the violence. Commissioner Benita Ferraro-Waldner acknowledged Israel’s right to self-defense, but said its response was disproportionate.

‘We have come to Israel in order to advance the initiative for a humanitarian cease-fire and I will tell you, Mr. President, that you have a serious problem with international advocacy, and that Israel’s image is being destroyed,’ she said, according to a statement from Peres’ office.

In Geneva, the international Red Cross said Gaza was in a ‘full-blown’ humanitarian crisis. Its head of operations, Pierre Kraehenbuehl, said the few remaining power supplies could collapse at any moment.

Israeli leaders say there is no humanitarian crisis and that they have allowed the delivery of vital supplies.
The EU delegation was one of a flurry of diplomatic efforts to forge a cease-fire. French President Nicolas Sarkozy left Israel after a day of meetings with leaders.

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

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stressed to Sarkozy that any agreement ‘must contain at its foundation the total cessation of all arms transfers to Hamas,’ said Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev.

Regev noted that Hamas used a previous six-month truce to double the range of its rockets. About one-eighth of Israel’s 7 million citizens now live in rocket range.

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

In Washington, 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 crossings on the border with Israel, said spokesman Sean McCormack.

The crossings, used to deliver vital food shipments into Gaza, have been largely closed since Hamas took control of Gaza in June 2007. A third element of a U.S.-backed cease-fire would address the smuggling tunnels used by Hamas.

U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes said the overall Palestinian toll since the opening of the Gaza campaign on Dec. 27 stood at about 500, with about 125 of them civilians.

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

Israel’s operation has angered many 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.

P/S: Even my class discussing this topic like mad. At one side they concur of what the Israelis are doing, that’s just protecting their ‘territory’ and the other just despises Israelis and said they don’t even deserve the title ‘country’ as they only taking over someone else’s land to make their own by force.

Hurmm. . . and how about you?