12/29/2008, 00.00
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Israel attacks Gaza for the third day: over 300 injured

by Joshua Lapide
Hamas’ Ministry for internal affairs is hit along with Gaza University. Many civilians are among the wounded. Criticism from around the world. Protests in the Arab world. The Palestinian authorities are divided. The weight of the attacks on upcoming elections.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews/Agencies) – For a third straight day Israeli warplanes continued top und Gaza, hitting the Hamas ministry of internal affairs and Gaza University.  Meanwhile Tel Aviv has called up 6,500 reserves for a possible round invasion into the Strip.  Israeli armoured tanks are massing on the border with Gaza, while Palestinians in the Strip count the dead.  According to Palestinian medical sources the death toll stands at 300 dead since December 27th, when Israel began the offensive in response to continuous rocket attacks from within the strip, some reaching Ashdot. On December 27th an Israeli man from Netivot was killed.

According to the Palestinian Centre for Human rights many of the dead in the Strip are civilians, including at least 20 children under 16 years of age and 9 women.  Israel defends itself with the claim that all of its targets are military, but in Gaza that population is amassed into over populated housing built in a tight network of streets very close to the targets, making it very difficult to hit Hamas without targeting civilians too.

Israeli forces say that thanks to the bombardment they have reduced Hamas’ missile power by over 50%.  Two days ago Hamas succeeded in launching 130 Qassam missiles; yesterday only 20 were launched.

The Israeli population on the boarder with Gaza approve of the offensive.  For years they have been subjected to a rain of missiles and it seemed as if the Tel Aviv government was not intent on doing anything for them.

The European Union, Russia, China and the UN Security Council have all demanded an immediate halt to violence on both sides.  UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon has demanded Israel permit aid access to the Strip, crippled by a severe blockade for over a year now.  Yesterday 30 trucks with emergency aid were allowed enter the Strip.

Across the Arab world demonstrations and protests against the Israeli attacks have been held.  Even Turkey, one of the few Islamic states to have direct relations with Israel, has defined these attacks as “crimes against humanity”.

Among Palestinians themselves there are deep divisions: Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority and head of Hamas’ enemy faction Fatah, has declared that all of this violence could have been avoided if Hamas had continued the truce, dissolved on December 19th last.  The leader of Hamas in Syria, Khaled Meshaal, is instead urging a new Intifada (revolt) against Israel. Ismail Haniya, head of Hamas in Gaza, has accused the Israelis of carrying out a “horrible massacre”.

The Israel government– with Tzipi Livni and Ehud Barack – is also under pressure: this harsh offensive in Gaza appears aimed at gaining votes from the far right, robbing them from the “hawk” Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of the February 10th general elections.


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Dozens of air raids on Gaza in response to Hamas rockets
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