Israel steps up bombardment of Gaza

Young Palestinian in Jerusalem is carried to safety after being shot by Israeli forces

ISRAELI fighter jets continued bombarding high-rise buildings and other targets in the Gaza Strip using F-15 fighter jets yesterday, as Palestinians marked the Eid al-Fitr religious holiday under the relentless aerial bombardment.

More Israeli tanks massed on the Gaza border as Israel prepares for a ground invasion.

Israel’s military spokesman Jonathan Conricus said yesterday attacks on Gaza will continue as Israel prepares for ‘multiple scenarios’.

‘We have ground units that are prepared and are in various stages of preparing ground operations,’ he said.

The city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip was hit yesterday by a fresh Israeli air raid.

Since the Israeli offensive began late on Monday, Gaza’s health ministry says at least 84 people, including 17 children, have been killed. More than 480 others have been wounded.

At least six Israelis and one Indian national have also been killed. The Israeli army said hundreds of rockets have been fired from Gaza towards various locations in Israel and they have added reinforcements near the Gaza’s eastern lands.

Dozens of Palestinians have been wounded in separate incidents in the occupied West Bank. At least eight Palestinians were wounded yesterday when a group of settlers from an illegal settlement attacked Duwwaneh village near Hebron. Four of them needed hospitalisation.

There have also been more violent confrontations between Jewish Israelis and Palestinian citizens of Israel in several cities inside Israel.

Palestinian families in the mixed Arab-Jewish city of Haifa said that that mobs of Jewish Israelis were marking the homes of the city’s Arab community on Wednesday night to help identify them.

Meanwhile, others used lethal force to attack Arabs in their homes while Israeli police forces stood by and watched.

‘Hundreds if not thousands of settlers attacked Arab neighbourhoods in Haifa on Wednesday last night,’ said Heba, an Arab resident of Haifa.

‘They were asking where the Arabs live. They attacked us in our home with stones under the protection of the security forces.

‘There were tens of police officers, cars and even horses. We had nothing to protect ourselves with in our own homes,’ she added.

The spokesman for al-Qassam Brigades, the military arm of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas said yesterday, ‘There are no red lines or rules of engagement in our fight for the sake of al-Aqsa and the protection of our people.

‘Every price we pay and will pay is a ransom for al-Quds (Jerusalem), so there is no sense for our existence without winning al-Quds and al-Aqsa.’

Meanwhile, Palestinian Ambassador Husam Zomlot said in an interview with Sky yesterday: ‘People are dying every day because of the Israeli occupation, because of the Israeli draconian system.

‘For all these years the Palestinian people have been subjected to a system of ethnic cleansing. So the issue is not just exchanges of fire.

‘The British media and the American media always try and paint the picture as if it is an issue between Hamas and Israel. No! It is an issue between the Palestinian people and Israel. Hamas was created only twenty years ago. This has been ongoing for a hundred years. You have our Palestinian leaders, you have the PLO that I represent, you have the state of Palestine, acknowledged, recognised, has a seat at the UN.

‘This reductionist method, of reducing our cause to some sort of confrontation between Hamas and Israel … I care about the Palestinian mothers who are now fighting for the lives of their children. I care about thousands of Palestinians who are now in the streets trying to get their voices heard.

‘I care about the agonies, the wounds against the people.’