Volume. 12227

Five killed in massive Israeli onslaught on besieged Gaza
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c_330_235_16777215_0___images_stories_edim_Israel99(7).jpgIsraeli warplanes targeted 50 sites overnight in the 150km2 territory of the Gaza Strip, which is home to some 1.8 million Palestinians, wounding at least 17 and destroying five residential buildings.
Al-Quds newspaper cited witnesses who reported that the Israeli occupation forces had phoned civilians asking them to evacuate their houses within a few minutes before launching F16 rockets that turned their homes into rubble.
Five residential buildings along the Gaza Strip from the south to the north were destroyed in this way during the night, leaving more than 90 civilians homeless.
Late on Monday, the Israeli Security Council decided to launch what it is calling "Operation Protective Edge" against the Gaza Strip, allegedly aimed at deterring Palestinians from firing homemade rockets at the Israeli settlements around the Strip.
"A man named Ashraf Yassin was killed in an Israeli air strike west of Nusseirat refugee camp in central Gaza," spokesman for the Gaza health ministry Ashraf al-Qudra told AFP.
Qudra later tweeted that four more bodies had arrived to Shifa Hospital after Israel bombed a car transporting them in Gaza City.
A total of 29 Palestinians were injured Tuesday, two of them seriously, emergency services spokesman Qudra said.
Witnesses said the first man was a fighter with Hamas's military wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades. It was unclear if the other four victims were fighters or civilians.
Israel claimed its offensive was meant to end Palestinian rocket fire into Israeli occupied territories, urging Israelis within a 40 kilometer radius of the southern coastal territory to stay within reach of protected areas
The military said it targeted about 50 sites in aerial and naval assaults. Palestinian officials said more than 30 of them were bombed in little more than an hour before dawn, including two homes in southern Gaza, one of which was identified by a neighbor as belonging to a Hamas member.
Gaza medics said seven children and three women were among 22 people wounded in the overnight strikes, with more raids during the morning. Two of the wounded were in serious condition.
The Israeli army said the air force and the navy had struck around 50 "terror sites" overnight.
It also destroyed the homes of four families allegedly belonging to members the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, it said were responsible for rocket fire.
It was the most serious flare-up in and around the territory since November 2012 and came as Israel struggled to contain a wave of violence in Arab towns over the grisly murder of a Palestinian teenager by Jewish extremists.
The latest flare-up comes as Israel battled to contain a wave of Arab unrest after the grisly kidnap and murder of the Palestinian teenager by Jewish extremists in a suspected revenge attack.
Three of them have confessed, an official close to the investigation told AFP.
The killing sparked five days of clashes between angry protesters and riot police in annexed occupied east Jerusalem and Arab towns across Israel. Police arrested another 39 people overnight, raising the overall number of people detained to 299.
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas demanded Israel "immediately stop" its air campaign, dubbed Operation Protective Edge, and asked the international community to put pressure on the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
But Netanyahu was expected to order a "significant broadening" of the operation at an afternoon meeting with security chiefs and instruct the army to "take off the gloves," a source close to him told army radio.
Israel, Hamas slide towards major conflict
The Israeli army was preparing all options to stamp out militant rocket fire from Gaza, including a ground assault, a senior official told AFP.
"The army is preparing for all possible scenarios, including an invasion or a ground operation," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"We have been instructed by the political echelon to hit Hamas hard," military spokesman General Moti Almoz told the radio, saying the operation would take place "in stages."
He also confirmed Israel was preparing for a possible ground offensive.
"All options are on the table, all these steps are being considered. Two brigades, which are currently stationed around the Gaza Strip, are prepared and ready, and in the coming days, more will arrive," he said.
Around Gaza, dozens of tanks and soldiers could be seen massing along the border, AFP correspondents reported.
Meanwhile, Hamas threatened an "earthquake" in response to Israel's attacks.
In a statement, the group denounced Israel's bombing of houses as "exceeding all red lines" and threatened to shoot rockets at longer distances. "We will respond by broadening the range of our targets," the fighters said.
Sirens sound across Israel
The Israeli occupation army announced on Tuesday that the Palestinian resistance had launched dozens of rockets from the Gaza Strip. There were reports that three of them landed in the Israeli settlement of Gush Etzion, south of Bethlehem.
In total, 85 rockets were reportedly fired on Monday night.
Palestinian news agency Sama quoted Israeli sources as saying that one of the Palestinian rockets landed in the area of Beit Shemish, which is near to Jerusalem, and 71 km far from Gaza.
For the first time since this campaign began, Al-Qassem Brigade, Hamas's military wing, officially claimed responsibility for firing a number of the rockets. In a statement, it said it would widen its target areas in Israel if the occupation army did not stop targeting civilian houses.
Israeli media outlets reported on Tuesday that sirens sounded across Israel.
Haaretz newspaper said that due to the rocket fire, towns within 40 kilometers of the Gaza Strip were instructed to cancel school and summer camp activity, and to stay close to shelters.
The newspaper also reported that the Iron Dome system intercepted seven Palestinian rockets.
Meanwhile, Israel's Channel 10 television revealed that after the failure of the Egyptian mediator to achieve a truce with Hamas, Israel is looking for a new mediator for the same purpose.
Collaborators captured in Gaza
Several Palestinians who have been collaborating with the Israeli occupation have been captured in the Gaza Strip, a news website said yesterday.
Al-Majd, a Palestinian website which specialized in security information, said the Palestinian resistance captured the collaborators while they followed fighters and observed places where fighters could be hiding.
The website did not disclose the names of the collaborators, who were asked by Israeli intelligence services to look for new Palestinian targets for future attacks.
The Palestinian resistance believes the Israeli "bank of targets" had run out; therefore, the Israeli intelligence services asked collaborators to search for new targets.
One of the collaborators confessed he was asked to oversee a farmland near to his house and to see who uses it and what they do there.
Another one said he was asked by the Israeli Shabak to look for houses of Palestinian political and military leaders.
The website reported that the Palestinian resistance would continue following up on collaborators and it might execute those who cause the assassination of Palestinians.
During the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip in 2012, Palestinian fighters executed six collaborators who were involved in the assassination of Palestinians.
Israeli has waged a draconian siege of the Gaza Strip since 2006.
Israeli has launched two similar offensives against the Gaza Strip in the recent past.
The first was a 22-day offensive in 2008-2009 that claimed the lives of more than 1,400 Palestinians and left more than 5,000 wounded. It destroyed hundreds of residential buildings and essential public infrastructure, including police headquarters, schools and hospitals.
Another seven-day offensive in 2012 claimed the lives of more than 140 Palestinians and left more than 1,000 wounded, with dozens of houses and governmental buildings destroyed.
Palestinians in Gaza fear that this war could be similar to the previous two, since the pretext in all the wars is stopping Palestinians firing rockets from Gaza.

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