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Israeli airstrike damages Hamas premier’s office

JERUSALEM (CNN) — Israeli aircraft hit the Gaza City building housing the office of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh early Sunday, heavily damaging it.

No one was in the building when it was struck.

Shortly afterward, Israeli aircraft also struck a metal workshop in Gaza City and a house to the south belonging to a member of the military wing of Hamas, according to a CNN producer on the scene.

It was the fifth consecutive day in which Israeli forces launched air and ground operations against militants in northern Gaza, aimed at stopping what Israel says is a steady barrage of rocket fire into its towns.

The continuing unrest prompted United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to call for an end to the back-and-forth attacks at an emergency U.N. Security Council session Saturday night.

I am deeply concerned [about] the violence escalating, he said. I call on all parties to step back from deeper and even more deadly clashes.

A Palestinian representative warned that Israel’s attacks threaten to derail the peace process and will undermine any progress that has been made.

Fifty-two Palestinians have been killed and 200 wounded since Friday in Gaza, Palestinian medical sources said, in the deadliest 24 hours of violence in more than a year.

The sources said 85 people, including civilians and children, have been killed in the Jebaliyah area since the incursion began Wednesday.

Israel launched airstrikes and limited ground operations in northern Gaza after militants fired rockets into Israeli territory.

Two Israeli soldiers were killed and seven wounded in clashes Saturday, the Israel Defense Forces announced.

Hamas security and medical sources said that an Israeli airstrike early Saturday in northern Gaza killed Hamas commander Iyyad al-Ashram.

The Israeli military confirmed that it had hit at least 23 armed Palestinians late Friday and early Saturday. Watch as Israeli-Palestinian fighting escalates

An IDF spokeswoman said the operations mostly involved ground forces backed by air support. Some of the Palestinian militants targeted were seen planting explosives and firing at IDF troops, she said.

Meanwhile, the Israeli government announced that more than 50 Qassam rockets had been fired into Israel from Gaza on Saturday, injuring 22 people in Sderot and Ashkelon and causing property damage. The IDF said earlier that some of those injured were children.

The government put the number of rockets at more than 90 since Thursday.

Israel’s defense minister has said the Jewish state is ready for escalation in the confrontation with militants in Gaza.

The big military operation is actual and concrete, Ehud Barak said. We are not eager for it [but] are not deterred by it.

Israel is threatening to launch a major ground offensive into Gaza unless Hamas, the Islamic militant organization that seized control of the Palestinian territory in June, stops the daily rocket attacks into Israel.

The short-range Qassam missiles are fired from Gaza into Sderot and surrounding communities almost daily.

We have to blame the Hamas, said Matan Vilnai, Israel’s deputy defense minister. It’s their responsibility, and they are going to pay for it. I feel sorry for their population, because they are using their population in order to launch rockets from their area to our area.

He told Israeli Army Radio that militants were bringing onto themselves a worse shoah, a Hebrew word usually used to refer to the Holocaust.

That drew a strong reaction from exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, who told the Arabic network Al-Jazeera from Damascus, Syria: From last Wednesday until now, that is the real Holocaust.

Palestinian leaders in the West Bank are threatening to call off peace talks with Israel because of the ongoing operations.

Babies no more than 5 months old are being bombed, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said. We ask the world to see with its own eyes and judge for itself who is really carrying out international terrorism.

Meanwhile, Israeli citizens urged their government to respond harshly to the barrage of Palestinian rocket attacks. A college student was killed last week, and an 8-year-old boy’s leg had to be amputated after he was wounded in an attack.

Before this week’s battles, a poll showed that 64 percent of Israelis favored negotiating with Hamas, a group that has refused to recognize Israel’s existence, in an attempt to reach an agreement.

Border access between Gaza and neighboring Israel and Egypt has been greatly restricted since June, when Hamas took over the territory.

Human rights groups have protested the blockade of electricity and fuel shipments into Gaza, blaming Israel for punishing civilians along with the territory’s Hamas leadership.
Israeli airstrike damages Hamas premier’s office – found here.

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March 2, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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