WORLD> Middle East
Israeli assault targets symbols of Hamas power
Updated: 2008-12-29 20:16

GAZA CITY– Israel's air force obliterated symbols of Hamas power on the third day of its overwhelming assault on Gaza on Monday, striking a house next to the Hamas premier's home, devastating a security compound and flattening a five-story building at a university closely linked to the Islamic group.

Israeli soldiers stand near armoured military vehicles at a staging area just outside the northern Gaza Strip December 29, 2008. [Agencies] 

The three-day death toll rose to 315, including seven children under the age of 15 who were killed in two separate strikes late Sunday and Monday, medics said. Israel launched the deadliest against Palestinians in decades on Saturday in retaliation for rocket fire aimed at civilians in southern Israeli towns.

Related readings:
 Oil jumps to near $40 as Israel-Gaza clash widens
 UN agency estimates Gaza civilian dead at 51
 Obama monitors Israeli attacks on Gaza
 Analysts expect more violence in future after Israeli strikes on Gaza

The strikes appear to have gravely damaged Hamas' ability to launch rockets but a medium-range rocket fired at the Israeli city of Ashkelon killed a man there Monday and wounded several others. It was the second fatality in Israel since the beginning of the offensive and the first person ever to be killed by a rocket in Ashkelon, a city of 120,000.

On Sunday, Hamas missiles struck for the first time near the city of Ashdod, twice as far from Gaza as Ashkelon and only 25 miles from Israel's heart in Tel Aviv.

At first light Monday, strong winds blew black smoke from the bombed sites in Gaza City over deserted streets. The air hummed with the buzz of pilotless drones and the roar of jets, punctuated by the explosions of new airstrikes.

Most of those killed since Saturday were members of Hamas security forces, though the precise numbers remain unclear. The United Nations agency in charge of Palestinian refugees said at least 51 of the dead were civilians. A rise in civilian casualties could intensify international pressure on Israel to abort the offensive.

Israel's intense bombings - more than 300 air strikes since midday Saturday - wreaked unprecedented destruction in Gaza, reducing buildings to rubble.

One strike destroyed a five-story building in the women's wing at Islamic University, one of the most prominent Hamas symbols. Another attack ravaged a compound controlled by Preventive Security, one of the group's chief security arms, and a third destroyed a house next to the residence of Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas prime minister.

Like other Hamas leaders, Haniyeh is in hiding.

   Previous page 1 2 3 Next Page