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Death toll mounts, scores injured as Israeli airstrike on Gaza continues

Thursday November 15, 2012 01:45:30 PM, Agencies

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Israeli forces launch fresh airstrikes on Gaza

Gaza City: Israeli airstrike, naval gunboats and tanks carried on through dawn in southern Gaza Strip on Thursday morning killing three Palestinians and leaving many injured after targeting the head of military wing of Hamas in a missile strike the previous night.


The death toll on Thursday was at least 11 Palestinians killed from Israeli strikes on Gaza, while Israeli media are reporting that three Israelis have been killed in the southern Israeli town of Kiryat Malahi.


Launched on Wednesday during a deceptive lull in almost a week of surging cross-border violence, Israel's began its air assault with the assassination of Ahmed al-Jaabari, head of Hamas' military wing, while travelling in his car. Jaabari's son was also killed in the strike.

Hamas, reeling at the strategic loss of its top military commander, Islamic Jihad and other armed factions said they resumed rocket attacks against towns and villages in Israel's south after Wednesday's assassinatuion.

Israeli authorities said more than 200 rockets and mortars were fired in from Gaza as of Thursday morning, and its Iron Dome interceptor had shot down 27 of the missiles.

On either side of the frontier, people fled streets for cover.

Waves of airstrikes on more than 100 militant targets quickly followed the assassination of Hamas military wing Ahmed Jabari.


The air attacks continued steadily into the early hours Thursday, targeting the armed group's training facilities and rocket launchers in Israel's most intense attack on the territory since its full-scale war there four years ago.

The Israeli military released a black-and-white video of the airstrike, showing a sedan moving slowly along a road before going up in flames in an explosion so powerful that a large chunk of the vehicle flew high into the air.

Crowds of people and security personnel rushed to the scene of the strike, trying to put out the fire that had engulfed the car and left it a charred shell. Plumes of black smoke wafted into Gaza City's skies following other airstrikes. Ambulance sirens blared as people ran in panic in the streets and militants fired angrily into the air.

"I was sitting on my bed with my grandson when suddenly the wall collapsed on both of our heads," said Mahmoud Bana, a 62-year-old man who was slightly wounded along with his 11-year-old grandson. "We don't know what happened but we know it is going to be a few hard days ahead."

'Hamas vows revenge'

In a statement, Hamas' prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, eulogized Jaabari and vowed revenge.

"We mourn our late leader who walked the path of jihad while he knew the end, either victory or martyrdom," Haniyeh said. "There is no fear among our people and our resistance, and we will face this vicious attack."


Outside the hospital where Jaabari's body was taken, thousands of Gazans chanted "Retaliation!" and "We want you to hit Tel Aviv tonight!"


Meanwhile, in a closed-door meeting of the U.N. Council on Wednesday night, Palestine's U.N. Ambassador Riyad Mansour said Israel is “vulgarly and publicly boasting about its willful killing of Palestinians” after an air strike killed Jaabari.

In the text of his statement, Mansour said “War crimes are being perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinian people.”

“The international community must act to bring to bring an end to Israel's illegal policies and practices against the Palestinian people.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a televised address Wednesday the operation sent a “clear message” to Hamas and other organizations and threatened to expand the military mission if needed.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released statements saying he had spoken to Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi about “the worrisome escalation of violence in southern Israel and Gaza and the need to prevent any further deterioration.”

He also said he had talked to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to express concern about “an alarming escalation of indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza into Israel and the targeted killing by Israel of a Hamas military operative in Gaza.”


Israel's already strained relations with Egypt's new Islamist government frayed even further as Egypt recalled its ambassador Wednesday in response to the Israeli military operation.

Egypt and other Arab nations called for the emergency meeting after Israel killed the Hamas military commander during more than 20 air strikes on Gaza.



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