DUBAI: The Palestinian group Hamas has called for a fresh uprising against Israel following massive aerial bombardment which has continued for a second successive day on Sunday.
The wave of airstrikes has been the largest since the Arab-Israeli war of 1967. The death toll from the bombardment has now reached 280, while 800 persons have been wounded.
Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal called upon Palestinians to wage a new Intifada (mass uprising) against Israeli occupation, including a return to martyrdom (suicide) operations.
In an interview on Al-Jazeera television, Mr. Mashaal said: “We called for a military intifada against the enemy. Resistance will continue through martyrdom operations”. “I call upon you [Palestinians] to carry out a third Intifada.” The first mass uprising against Israel took place in the eighties, while the second began in 2000.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh declared that the massive use of force by Israel was futile. “We will not leave our land, we will not raise white flags and we kneel only before Allah,” he said.
Israeli warplanes on Sunday attacked 60 targets including the media apparatus of Hamas. In the first strike on Sunday, a mosque, located near the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, was destroyed. Two bodies were recovered from the debris.
Israeli aircraft also targeted Al Aqsa television station used by Hamas. The station has continued its broadcast through its mobile units, despite the destruction of the studio building during the attack.
Hundreds of Israeli infantry troops and tanks are massing at Israel’s border with Gaza in preparation for a possible ground offensive.
Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said Israel wished “to totally change the rules of the game [in Gaza].”
Responding to the attacks, the Palestinian groups in Gaza have continued to fire rockets inside southern Israel. Around 40 rockets were fired on Sunday, out of which one landed in the city of Ashdod, nearly 37 km inside Israeli territory from Gaza. This is the longest distance that a Palestinian rocket fired inside Israel from Gaza has covered so far. A woman suffered shrapnel injuries when three rockets hit the industrial city of Ashkelon.
On Sunday, there has been a cascade of protests in West Asia, starting from the Palestinian West Bank to Morocco, and including Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Yemen and Syria, against the killings in Gaza. Hamas officials have accused Egypt of having foreknowledge of the attacks and of misleading the group prior to the strikes.
Meanwhile, Iran will observe Monday as a day of national mourning following the killing of the Palestinians. Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei described the Israeli strikes on Saturday and Sunday as a “deliberate massacre” committed against Palestinians. Ayatollah Khamenei said those who masterminded the “abysmal catastrophe” should be personally tried and accordingly punished. He lamented that “some Muslim leaders have paved the way for Tel Aviv to commit these crimes against humanity.” The Palestinian group Hamas, which has been targeted by Israel, has blamed Egypt of having foreknowledge of the attacks.