Update: Israel air raids kill 14, destroy Hamas HQ in Gaza

AFP , Saturday 17 Nov 2012

Israel lunched more than 180 air strikes on Gaza killing at least 44 Palestinians and destroyed the Hamas government headquarters

Palestinians inspect the destroyed office building of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza City (Photo: AP)

Four Palestinians were killed in new Israeli air strikes on central Gaza Saturday, raising the death toll from 72 hours of raids to 44, the emergency services said.

A statement first announced two deaths in a strike on Deir al-Balah, then added an additional two deaths in a strike on the Masdar area, also in central Gaza.

There were no immediate details on whether the four were civilians or militants. At least four people were injured in the strike in Deir al-Balah, which followed multiple strikes during the day that killed 10 Palestinians, eight of them militants.

The statement added that at least two Palestinians were in critical condition after an air strike on their car in the Zeitun neighbourhood of Gaza City, adding that another two were also in serious condition after a strike on a motorbike in Khan Yunis, in central Gaza. Nine Israelis including four soldiers were hurt by rocket fire, medics said.

The bloodshed raised to 44 the total number of Palestinians killed in just over 72 hours of Israeli air strikes, while another 393 were injured, Gaza's emergency services said. Over the same period, three Israelis have been killed by rockets and another 18 injured, 10 of them soldiers, police and the army said.

Earlier attacks on Rafah killed five people -- an ambulance worker called Awad Nahal and four Hamas militants. One of the militants was named as Mukhlis Adwan, but the identities of the other three were not immediately available.

Another three people -- all Hamas militants -- were killed in a strike on Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza, with security sources naming them as Ali Manameh, Hossam Abdel Jawad and Assaf Gharwish.

Palestinian medics said another man, an Islamic Jihad militant wounded in a strike on Zeitun in Gaza City earlier in the day, died of his injuries. They named him as Mohammed Yassin, 24.

Meanwhile in Israel, nine people were injured by rocket fire on Saturday.

Four were soldiers who sustained light injuries, the army said, with military sources saying they were "inside a building" at the time.

The military said the incident occurred in the Eshkol regional council area, and Hamas militants claimed the attack, saying they had fired five mortar rounds at a "position" in Reim some eight kilometres (five miles) from central Gaza.

During the afternoon, another five Israelis were lightly injured when four rockets hit the southern coastal town of Ashdod, scoring direct hits on a block of flats and a vehicle, the police and army said.

In Egypt, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Israel would be held to account for the children killed.

"Everyone must know that sooner or later there will be a holding to account for the massacre of these innocent children killed inhumanely in Gaza," he said in a speech in Cairo.

Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal was also in Cairo and scheduled to meet Egypt's intelligence chief, Erdogan and Qatari emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, a senior Hamas official said.

With Cairo playing a central role in efforts to halt the violence, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti appealed for a truce in a telephone conversation with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu, Monti's office said.

Saturday's violence came as Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafik Abdessalem paid a brief solidarity visit to Gaza, urging the world to stop Israel's "blatant aggression," as he toured Haniya's ruined headquarters.



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