Saturday, May 25, 2013
Last Updated: 24 May 21:23 PM IST
17 November 2012Agence France-Presse
GAZA CITY/JERUSALEM, 17 NOV: Israeli air strikes hit the Cabinet headquarters of Gaza's Hamas government, the group said early today, with eyewitnesses reporting extensive damage to the building.
An additional strike on the house of a Hamas official in the northern Gaza Jabalia refugee camp left at least 35 people injured, health officials said.
“The Cabinet headquarters was targeted with four strikes and the government stresses that it remains committed to its positions and its stand alongside the people,” the Hamas government said in a statement.
“The IDF (army) has targeted (Hamas Prime Minister) Ismail Haniya's headquarters in Gaza,” an Israeli army spokesman told AFP. “Over the past six hours, the IDF targeted 85 more terror sites,” the military spokesperson's official Twitter account added.
Eyewitnesses and Hamas officials said the headquarters in the Nasser neighbourhood of Gaza City was virtually leveled in the strike. “The headquarters was completely destroyed and neighbouring houses were damaged as a result of the barbaric Israeli bombing,” a Hamas official told AFP.
Yesterday morning, Mr Haniya and a slew of other top Hamas government officials lined up in front of the building to welcome Egypt's Prime Minister Hisham Qandil, on a brief solidarity trip to the Gaza Strip.
The raid on the building came as Israel renewed strikes across Gaza, bombing the headquarters of the Hamas police force in western Gaza City and the government's internal security headquarters in the north of the city.
Since Wednesday at least 30 Palestinians have been killed, with more than 280 wounded, and Gaza militants have fired hundreds of rockets at Israel, killing three people and wounding 16.
Meanwhile, the Israeli Cabinet gave its green light for the recruitment of up to 75,000 reservists, Channel 2 television said, amid signs that Israel was gearing up for a ground offensive in Gaza. The decision was taken yesterday night in a phone vote which was carried out as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held talks at the defence ministry in Tel Aviv with his inner circle, the Forum of Nine, the channel reported.
In practice, it means that up to 75,000 reserve soldiers can be drafted into action by the military at any point, as Israel appeared set to expand its relentless air campaign against Gaza militants. As darkness fell, the Hamas-run enclave hunkered down for a third night of Israeli bombardment which began on Wednesday with an air strike which killed a top Hamas commander, unleashing a new and deadly round of bloody mayhem.
And the Israeli army moved to seal off roads around Gaza as AFP correspondents reported a growing build-up of military hardware and reserve forces along the Gaza border.