WORLD> Middle East
Gunpowder, blood cover Gaza streets
Updated: 2008-12-29 07:42

Mohamed Al-Ashi, 28, was in a shock as he stood at Gaza City's Shifa Hospital's emergency room watching several relatives and police officers carrying the body of his brother, who died in the first Israeli airstrike carried out on Saturday at the main Hamas police headquarters.

An Israeli woman hugs a boy at the scene of a rocket attack in the southern city of Ashkelon Decemeber 28, 2008. Israel launched air strikes on Gaza for a second day on Sunday, piling pressure on Hamas after killing more than 270 people in one of the bloodiest days in 60 years of conflict between the Palestinians and the Jewish state.[Agencies] 

"I pray to Allah to give us patience and strength, may Allah bless his spirit. We lost the best man in the family," said Mohamed, as he looked sad but kept his tears from flowing, while others shouted: Allah Akbar (God is great).

Faris El-Ashi, a 33-year-old bomb expert and an officer in Hamas police forces, explosives division was critically wounded on Saturday and died of his wounds yesterday morning at the hospital.

El-Ashi is one of hundreds who were either killed or wounded in the ongoing intensive Israeli warplanes airstrikes on targets belong to Hamas movement offices and its security forces.

Mo'aweya Hassanein, chief of emergency services in the Palestinian Health Ministry said that the death toll since Saturday morning hit to 287 people. More than 900 people have been wounded with 120 of them receiving serious injuries.

"All Gaza Strip hospitals are in a status of emergency, receiving bodies and casualties of people who were hit by the Israeli air missiles. Gaza hospitals suffer from a severe lack of medical aids and equipment," said Hassanein.

Gaza Strip streets looked empty of traffic and people, where all stores and shops as well as schools and universities closed down, as Hamas government announced a three-day mourning period.

Salem Abu Akkar, a Palestinian academic from Gaza said he believes that "Hamas lost the battle from the very first strike, where most of those killed were all Hamas police men, and the Israeli airstrike had threatened its security leaders."

"Militarily speaking, Hamas has lost on the ground, but publicly and politically I believe that Hamas has won the battle and earned more political support among the Palestinians and among the Arabs," Akkar added.

The Israeli army had suddenly surprised Hamas movement in Gaza and has suddenly began unprecedented intensive airstrikes, where explosions were heard every five minutes all-over the Gaza Strip.

Early yesterday, the Israeli army air forces continued on the second day of airstrikes on different targets belong to Islamic Hamas movement.

Hamas movement said in a statement that the last airstrike was carried out on the building of Hamas cabinet headed by deposed Prime Minister Ismail Haneya, causing severe destruction to the building and several casualties.

The movement said in the statement that the Israeli army warplanes, F16 and Apache helicopters carried out around 25 airstrikes on different targets and buildings all-over the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli airstrikes overnight and early yesterday morning had also targeted a mosque in Gaza, Al-Aqsa Television station of Hamas, metal workshops suspected for manufacturing homemade rockets and police stations, according to Hamas.