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Israeli assault on Gaza widens, nealy 300 dead
Updated: 2008-12-29 09:15

GAZA -- Israel pounded Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip from the air on Sunday and prepared for a possible invasion after killing at least 298 Palestinians in two days of attacks.

Israel stepped up air strikes after dark on Sunday, destroying a laboratory building at the Islamic University in Gaza, a significant cultural symbol, Hamas said. Israel has accused Hamas of using the facilities to develop explosives.

During the first two days of the assault, militants fired about 150 rockets and mortars at Israel, the army said, less than had been expected. Two rockets struck near the port of Ashdod, 30 km (18 miles) from Gaza, causing no casualties. [Full Story]

Bloodiest attack in 60 years

Israel was on the brink of launching a full-scale invasion into Gaza on Sunday, following massive air strikes over the weekend that killed nearly 300 Palestinians.

It was bloodiest weekend for Palestinians in 60 years of conflict and triggered worldwide calls for peace and outpourings of fury within the Arab world. [Full Story]

Israel tanks mass near Gaza

Israeli tanks massed at the Gaza border on Monday as warplanes continued pounding Hamas targets in the densely populated enclave where raids have killed nearly 300 people in two days.

Dozens of tanks and personnel carriers idled at several points near the border after Israel warned it could launch a ground offensive in addition to its massive air blitz.

Hamas responded to the continuing bombardment by firing rockets the farthest yet into Israel, with one striking not far from Ashdod, Israel's second-largest port, some 30 kilometres (18 miles) north of Gaza . It caused no casualties, medics said. [Full Story]

Israel strikes Gaza in 2nd day of attacks

Israeli warplanes pressing one of Israel's deadliest assaults ever on Palestinian militants dropped bombs and missiles on a top security installation, a mosque, a TV station and dozens of other targets across the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Sunday.

Some 280 Palestinians have been killed and 600 people wounded since Israel's campaign to quash rocket barrages from Gaza began at midday Saturday, a Gaza health official said. Most of the dead were Hamas police. Israel launched some 250 airstrikes in the first 24 hours. [Full Story]

Abbas blames Hamas for Israeli raids on Gaza

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas blamed the rival Hamas group on Sunday for triggering Israel's deadly raids on Gaza by not extending a six-month truce with the Jewish state.

Abbas, whose Fatah movement has been at loggerheads with the Islamist group, said maintaining the truce could have helped the Palestinians avoid the Israeli raids.

"We talked to them (Hamas) and we told them 'please, we ask you, do not end the truce. Let the truce continue and not stop' so that we could have avoided what happened," he said in Cairo. [Full Story]

Barak: This will not be a short operation

Israel "cannot really accept" a ceasefire with Hamas, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in a US television interview on Saturday, rejecting calls by the United Nations and the European Union for a truce after Israeli air strikes in Gaza.

"For us to be asked to have a ceasefire with Hamas is like asking you to have a ceasefire with al Qaeda. It's something we cannot really accept," Barak told Fox News from Tel Aviv.

He said the Israeli attacks would continue as long as necessary until Hamas militants were ready to "change their behavior." [Full Story]

Arab world condemns Israeli attack

The Arab world reacted with outrage at Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip on Saturday, launching scattered protests and calls for retaliation against Israel.

The Arab League announced a gathering of foreign ministers Wednesday would focus on the attack, said the organization's chairman Amr Moussa. 

"Today everybody has to stand by the side of the Palestinian people and stop this blind military action," Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said. [Full Story]

China 'shocked' by killing, urges peace

China on Sunday joined the international community in calling for peace in Gaza.

Vice-Premier Li Keqiang called for military operations in Gaza Strip to cease immediately and effective measures to be taken to ease the tension.

Li, who is paying a four-day official visit to Kuwait, called for peace during his meeting with Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah. [Full Story]