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Gaza toll reaches 310 in relentless attacks

Atul Aneja

All-out war against Hamas, says Ehud Barak

PHOTO: AP

OVERWHELMING ASSAULT: A pall of smoke rises following an explosion from an Israeli missile strike on the Hamas-controlled Islamic University in Gaza City on Monday.

DUBAI: In the third consecutive day of air strikes, Israeli warplanes bombed 40 Palestinian locations in Gaza including the Islamic University and the Interior Ministry building. A Hamas guest house and a home next to the residence of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh were also attacked.

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak told lawmakers on Monday that Israel was waging an “all-out war against Hamas and its kind.”

The death toll from the relentless Israeli air raids in Gaza has now risen to 310.

The Israeli daily Jerusalem Post has reported that the air force had used the new “bunker-buster” bombs that had been recently acquired from the U.S. during its strikes. The weapon called GBU-39, though light weight, is highly destructive as it can penetrate underground locations. These bombs, guided by the Global Positioning System (GPS) were apparently used during Sunday’s strikes to close a network of tunnels at the Raffah border with Egypt. These tunnels have been Gaza’s lifeline as supplies from Egypt could be funnelled through them into the coastal strip.

Responding to Israeli air strikes, the Palestinians have fired at least 40 rockets into Israel from Gaza. A long range Grad rocket has killed one Israeli and wounded 14 others during an attack in the industrial city of Ashkelon. Five of the wounded are in serious condition. Television pictures showed panicked residents heading for bomb shelters amid the wailing of sirens in Ashkelon. A Palestinian also stabbed three Israelis in the town of Kiryat Sefer.

A Hamas official Fathi Hamad warned that his organisation would target Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Mr. Barak.

“We will reach that Zionist in her house, inside the Knesset [Israeli Parliament] compound. We will also get to the traitors in the Muqata compound [headquarters of the Palestinian Authority] in Ramallah and to all those in the Arab world that had a hand in the scheme against us. We will hunt Barak down and reach all of them,” said Mr. Hamad.

The attack on Gaza has also begun to have a diplomatic fall-out. Turkey has said it is ending its mediation between Israel and Syria following the Gaza offensive. “To make war on the Israeli-Palestinian track and at the same time make peace on the Israeli-Syrian track — these two cannot go together,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan.

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