Nine more Israeli soldiers were injured in the northern Gaza Strip yesterday, two of them seriously, as fierce fighting continued on the tenth day of the Israeli assault on the impoverished Strip.
Palestinian fighters continue to exchange fire with Israeli troops, primarily in northern towns and the outskirts of densely-populated Gaza City.
Following the Israeli ground invasion, Israeli troops, backed by tanks, bulldozers, and helicopters have cut the Gaza Strip in two.
On Monday Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak declared Gaza City ‘partially besieged.’
The Ezz-eddine al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing spokesman, Abu Obeida, warned the Israelis yesterday: ‘We have prepared thousands of brave fighters who are waiting for you in each corner of the street and will welcome you with fire and iron.
‘We tell you in all confidence that your defeat in the Gaza Strip is approaching with every hour,’ he said.
Israeli shelling in the Gaza Strip on Sunday morning killed 14 members of two families whose homes came under fire.
A total of 531 people have been killed in ten days of Israeli air, sea, and ground attacks. Over 2,500 have been injured. Since ground forces moved in on Saturday night, 82 have been killed.
Mid-morning on Sunday, Israeli warplanes bombed a house in the town of Beit Hanoun, where Palestinians were mourning the death of a paramedic who was killed on Saturday. Some 40 others were wounded in this attack.
Seven members of the Abu Eisha family were torn to pieces by shelling, said medical officials at Ash-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.
According to the medics the parents and their five children were killed when Israeli warships shelled their home in the Al-Mashtal area in the north of Ash-Shati Refugee Camp, on the shore west of Gaza City.
Medical officials at Ash-Shifa hospital also confirmed yesterday morning the deaths of seven people, including four children all members of the Samuni family in the Zaytoun neighbourhood of Gaza City.
Israeli forces intensified the shelling after midnight on Sunday, shelling four homes of Hamas leaders as well as home of Jamil Mizhir, a senior leader in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), in An-Nuseirat Refugee Camp in the central Gaza Strip.
Addressing the public for the first time since the beginning of the Israeli aggression, senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahhar spoke out against Israel, and encouraged fighters to continue their resistance.
As Arab leaders headed to the UN in New York, Palestinian foreign minister Riad al-Maliki told a press conference there, that the Palestinians and Arab leaders were in favour of international observers.
He said he was ‘disappointed’ over the silence of US president-elect Obama.
• POLICE ATTACKED DEMONSTRATORS IN PICCADILY UNDERPASS
THE Stop The War Coalition said yesterday it has made an official complaint about the riot police attack on unarmed and peaceful demonstrators, after they were directed into an underpass by Hyde Park, as they tried to march to the Israeli embassy on Saturday.
‘I was in the tunnel,’ Tansy Hoskins of the Stop The War Coalition told News Line, adding: ‘We were given no option but to go into the tunnel by police. They blocked the other routes to the Israeli embassy and essentially forced the demonstration to go into the tunnel.
‘Once we were in the tunnel, they then blocked the tunnel and three lines then proceeded to charge at the demonstration, batoning and beating people, which resulted in demonstrators stampeding back down the tunnel on top of other demonstrators.’
She said it evoked memories of ‘the Hillsborough disaster or the Bethnal Green tube disaster in the Second World War’.
‘And in the tunnel were lots of children, lots of families, there were buggies with toddlers in,’ she said.
‘People were screaming, they were terrified. It was about the most irresponsible policing I’ve seen or heard of.
‘People were injured. Some people sustained bad head injuries, some people were crushed. People had their arms batoned as they tried to protect themselves.
‘The main reason we got out is our chief steward told the police that if they didn’t let people out then someone was going to get killed.
‘Stop The War has made an official complaint to the police and we’re calling on people to come to the next demonstration on Saturday the 10th, from Hyde Park Speakers Corner to the Israeli embassy.
‘We want a peaceful demonstration that is as big as possible.’
Casey, one of the demonstrators, told News Line after the marchers were allowed out of the tunnel on Saturday, that police ‘hit me for nothing – all because I want to protest.
‘They’ve been batoning randomly,’ he said, adding that men, women and children had been hit.