Today’s massive retaliatory air offensive by Israel destroyed dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled Palestinian territory. So far it has been reported that the attacks killed nearly 200 people and wounded 270.
My Fox Houston reports that this retaliatory attack by Israel is the “single bloodiest day of fighting in years.” Most of those killed were Hamas security men but civilians were also killed.
According to Reuters Africa Snap Analysis today’s offensive by Israel on the Gaza Strip could bring about a higher level of violence with the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.
A series of Palestinian rocket attacks against Israel started weeks ago when Hamas ended a six months Egyptian-brokered ceasefire. Israel’s Defense Ministry indicated that it planned on pursuing a longer campaign of wider actions against Hamas, which would include the targeting the militant group's leaders.
"We face a period that will be neither easy nor short, and will require determination and perseverance until the necessary change is achieved in the situation in the south," Defense Minister Ehud Barak said.
According to Israeli analyst Ron Ben-Yishai, today’s disproportionate strike was a “shock treatment . . . aimed at securing a long-term ceasefire between Hamas and Israel on terms that are favourable to Israel."
Hamas has vowed revenge without describing what form the action would take.
The UK’s Telegraph reports that Gordon Brown expressed “deep concern” over the Israeli air strikes on Gaza and said that the only way to reach a "lasting solution" was through "peaceful means".
"I am deeply concerned by continuing missile strikes from Gaza on Israel and by Israel's response," Mr Brown said.
"As the Quartet stated on December 15, peaceful means are the only way of reaching a lasting solution to the situation in Gaza. I call on Gazan militants to cease all rocket attacks on Israel immediately.
Reuters reports that “the Bush administration has typically taken the position that Israel has the right to defend itself.” President Bush is on vacation at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said:
"Hamas must end its terrorist activities if it wishes to play a role in the future of the Palestinian people," Johndroe said. "The United States urges Israel to avoid civilian casualties as it targets Hamas in Gaza."