Is­rael hits sym­bols of Ha­mas rule; scores killed

The Covington News - - WORLD -

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Is­rael un­leashed its heav­i­est bom­bard­ment in a 3-week-old war against Ha­mas on Tues­day, strik­ing sym­bols of the mil­i­tant group’s con­trol in Gaza and fir­ing tank shells that Pales­tinian officials said shut down the strip’s only power plant.

The fight­ing came as diplomatic ef­forts to forge a truce re­mained stalled de­spite a death toll that Pales­tinian officials said rose above 1,200 on Tues­day. The shad­owy leader of the Ha­mas mil­i­tary wing said his group will not cease fire un­til its de­mands are met.

On Tues­day evening, res­i­dents of the sprawl­ing Je­baliya refugee camp in north­ern Gaza re­ported in­tense tank shelling. Ten mem­bers of an ex­tended fam­ily were killed and 50 other peo­ple wounded in the area, Pales­tinian health officials said. Two broth­ers driv­ing in a car with mark­ings of a U.N. aid agency were killed by shrap­nel, an area res­i­dent said.

“It was like an earthquake,” Moussa al-Mab­houh, a vol­un­teer for Gaza’s Civil De­fense, said of the scene. “Roofs col­lapsed, walls cracked and wounded peo­ple ev­ery­where.”

The heavy strikes — which came a day af­ter Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu on Mon­day warned of a “pro­longed” cam­paign against Ha­mas — were a new blow to in­ter­na­tional ef­forts to reach a sus­tain­able truce in the fight­ing.

Is­rael has vowed to stop the Ha­mas rocket and mor­tar fire that has reached in­creas­ingly deeper into its ter­ri­tory and to de­stroy a so­phis­ti­cated net­work of tun­nels that have been used by the mil­i­tants to in­fil­trate the Jewish state. For its part, Ha­mas has so far re­jected cease-fire ef­forts un­less its de­mands are met, in­clud­ing a lift­ing of a pun­ish­ing block­ade.

The rare re­marks by the Ha­mas mil­i­tary wing’s leader, Mo­hammed Deif, were broad­cast late Tues­day on Al-Aqsa TV, the satel­lite sta­tion of Ha­mas.

“There is not go­ing to be a cease-fire as long as the de­mands of our peo­ple are not ful­filled,” he said.

Deif’s voice was rec­og­niz­able in the au­dio state­ment. He has sur­vived re­peated Is­raeli as­sas­si­na­tion at­tempts and has op­er­ated from hid­ing for years.

Al-Aqsa also broad­cast a video­tape it said showed an in­fil­tra­tion by Ha­mas fight­ers into Is­rael on Mon­day through a border tun­nel.

At least 1,210 Pales­tini­ans have been killed, in­clud­ing 109 on Tues­day, and 7,000 wounded since the start of fight­ing July 8, said Pales­tinian health of­fi­cial Ashraf al-Kidra. He said 16 other peo­ple died of wounds sus­tained on pre­vi­ous days.

AP Photo/Hatem Moussa

Smoke and fire from the ex­plo­sion of an Is­raeli strike rise over Gaza City, Tues­day, July 29, 2014. Is­rael es­ca­lated its mil­i­tary cam­paign against Ha­mas on Tues­day, strik­ing sym­bols of the group's con­trol in Gaza and fir­ing tank shells that shut down the strip's only power plant in the heav­i­est bom­bard­ment in the fight­ing so far. The plant’s shut­down was bound to lead to fur­ther se­ri­ous dis­rup­tions of the flow of elec­tric­ity and wa­ter to Gaza’s 1.7 mil­lion peo­ple.

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