Saturday, December 27, 2008

Israeli missiles target Gaza

Israeli missiles target Gaza


Dec. 27, 2008


Israeli missiles target Gaza


Israel has launched air strikes on Hamas installations across the Gaza Strip, killing at least 140 people and causing heavy damage, according to officials and witnesses.


At least 30 missiles were fired at targets on Saturday, with the head of emergency services in Gaza saying that at least 200 people were also wounded.


Hamas and other affiliated Palestinian groups said they have ordered their fighters to avenge the Israeli attack.


Among those killed in Israel`s latest offensive was Tawfiq Jabber, the Gaza police chief.


Islam Shahwan, a Hamas police spokesman, said the missiles hit a police graduation ceremony in Gaza City.


The Hamas-run interior ministry said all security compounds in Gaza have been destroyed.


The unprecedented number of simultaneous strikes were described as `massive` by the AFP news agency.


`War crimes`


Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president and leader of Fatah, condemned the `aggression` in Gaza.


Mousa Abu Morzouz, the deputy leader of Hamas, told Al Jazeera: `Until now the aggression didn`t stop ... they are targeting all the police headquarters and offices.


`We will defend out people, we will retaliate against this aggression ... our military will retaliate.`


Marzouz called on the international community to condemn the attacks: `Nobody in this world can accept what happened and the Israeli aggression ... [we expect] the international community to stand agasint this and say that it is not acceptable.`


Mustafa Barghauthi, former Palestinian information minister, said; `This is not an attack on the Hamas. Its an attack on the whole population and the free will of the people of Gaza.


He accused Israel of committing `war crimes` and demanded that Abbas and his government stop all relations with Israel.


`Only just beginning`


The Israel army released a statement saying `terrorist installations` were hit and that all Israeli pilots returned unharmed.


The operation against the Hamas is `only just beginning,` Avi Benayahu, an Israeli military spokesman said.


The air raids follow the decision by the Israeli security cabinet to increase reprisals for cross-border rocket attacks against Israel, and the breakdown of a six-month-old Israel-Hamas truce earlier this month.


Hamas ended the ceasefire saying that Israel had violated the truce the truce by preventing vital food and medical supplies into the Gaza Strip.


Ayman Mohyeldin, Al Jazeera`s correspondent in Gaza, said: `A series of explosions were heard over Gaza City.


`From where we are there are at least seven different clouds of smoke from the strikes.


`We are seeing some casualties being evacuated in cars.`


Mohyeldin said that Hamas, who rule the Gaza Strip, was being held responsible by Israel for any attacks from the territory into Israel, even if they are undertaken by other Palestinian factions.


Jacky Rowland, Al Jazeera`s correspondent in Jerusalem, said that Israel`s decision to strike at this moment was down to Hamas withdrawing from the ceasefire and the intensified rocket fire coming from the Gaza Strip in recent days.


`In one day [in the past week] we saw 80 rockets ... which is a huge upsurge,` she said.


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