Saturday, April 9, 2011
Death toll of Israeli strikes in Gaza stands at 18, with more than 65 injured
Israel struck at various places in Gaza with air strikes and tank shells Saturday, killing four militants, Palestinian officials said. In all, 18 Gazans have been killed and more than 65 wounded since Israel unleashed the strikes following a Hamas attack on an Israeli school bus Thursday, whereby a 16-year-old boy was wounded.
Early Saturday, an Israeli airstrike struck a car near Rafah in southern Gaza, killing one of Hamas' top commanders, 29-year-old Tayser Abu Sneima, and two of his assistants. Later, Hamas said a tank shell killed another militant near the Jabalya neighborhood in Gaza.
On Friday at least nine Israeli air strikes hit Gaza, while the artillerie wa also active several times. That day nine people were killed. Among them a mother and daughter who wre preparing lunch, at home in Khan Younis, and was as a 55 year old man. Lateron a fourth - identified as an Al-Qassam Brigades fighter - was killed near Gaza City, and two unidentified men was killed when a shell hit his home east of Gaza City.
A statement from Israel's military acknowledged civilian casualties, saying that the military "regrets that the Hamas terrorist organization chooses to operate from within its civilian population, using it as a 'human shield'."
Overall, the Palestinian death toll since Thursday includes 11 militants, a Hamas policeman and six civilians.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad fired more than 15 missiles into Israel Saturday. The rockets reached the vicinity of the Israeli cities of Ashdod, Ashkelon and Beersheba. The military confirmed that its newly deployed Iron Dome defense system knocked some of them down. No Israelis were wounded in the attacks.
Hamas had largely observed a ceasy fire sicne the Cast Lead Campaign of 2008-2009 which killed 1400 people, most of them civilians.
It has still to bcome clear why Israel chose to end the relative calm with a targeted killing, last Sunday, of three militants of Hamas. This was the attack that triggered Hamas to launch the attack on the schoolbus, which was the beginning of the present round of fighting.