Israeli air strikes hit government compounds in Gaza

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Map of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict area and War on Terrorism around the Gaza strip

Israel has launched with at least 30 simultaneous missiles strikes on Hamas installations in Gaza City, causing heavy damage. F-16 fighters targeted security compounds in the city’s centre.

The “massive” air strikes on Saturday have claimed at least 220 lives, including Gaza police chief Maj. Gen. Tawfiq Jaber. More than 700 were injured, while others were still buried under the rubble, according to Health Ministry officer Moawiya Hassanain. Gaza City hospitals, including Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s main treatment center, are crowded with wounded victims. In response thirteen rockets and mortar shells had also hit southern Israel on Friday, damaging an unoccupied house.

Meanwhile, Hamas declared it would retaliate, by launching rocket attacks on and sending suicide bombers to Israel. “Hamas will continue the resistance until the last drop of blood,” warned Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Hamas’ rival, says he “condemns this aggression” and calls for restraint.

Map of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.
Qassam rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hits southern Ashkelon in Israel.

When the Egyptian-mediated truce terminated last week, Israel warned of their potential to launch a major offensive on Gaza, amid senior leaders’ call to topple Hamas. “I will not hesitate to use Israel’s strength to strike at Hamas and Islamic Jihad,” Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced on Thursday, issuing a dire warning that ”tens of thousands of children and innocents” would be at risk “as a result of Hamas’ actions.” Defense Minister Ehud Barak says Israel has temporarily opened some border crossings Friday to allow humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip in response to the international community’s pleas.

Two hours after IAF missiles targeted Hamas installations in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian gunmen launched on Saturday a massive attack with Qassam rockets on Israeli territory. Seven struck Ashkelon, killing one person, while another suffered serious injuries, and four others were moderately wounded when their house was hit. They were rushed to the Soroka hospital in Beersheva.

According to the IDF, Hamas militants had further launched more than 110 rockets since Saturday, IDF says. Meanwhile, a Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour has called on the United Nations to condemn the deadly violence. "There is no justification for punishing 1.5 million in the Gaza Strip because of the actions of a few. We hope we don't fail in having a reaction from the Security Council tonight," he said. Dr Moawiya Hassanein has said "we have counted 271 dead and 620 wounded since Saturday."

The 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict, referred to as "Operation Cast Lead" (מבצע עופרת יצוקה - also known as "Operation Solid Lead") by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), is an Israeli air strike operation launched on December 27, 2008 at 11:30 am local time (9:30 am UTC) against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip. Israeli officials justified the offensive as a retaliation against daily Palestinian Qassam rocket and mortar fire on Israel's southern communities.


  Learn more about December 2008 Gaza Strip airstrikes,

2007–2008 Israel–Gaza conflict and Gaza–Israel conflict on Wikipedia.