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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Sunday, January 21, 2018

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Israel wreaks vengeance on Palestinians

Israel has stormed the Gaza Strip with war planes

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TEL AVIV - In a dramatic escalation Israel has stormed the Gaza Strip with war planes hitting 270 targets on Tuesday alone.

The health ministry in Gaza confirmed 25 Palestinians have been killed so far and seventy injured. The ministry said 4 women and three children were among the dead.

Seven Palestinians, including 2 children under five, were killed and 25 wounded in an Israeli Air Force attack on Tuesday on a house in the Gaza Strip, Gaza medical and the Palestinian Interior Ministry told Ynet.

Hafez Hamed, a commander in the armed wing of the Quds Brigades, was killed in an Israeli air strike in Beit Hanoun on Tuesday night, along with five members of his family.

Hamas spokesman Abu Obeida said Israel had violated the Egyptian-brokered truce that ended hostilities in 2012.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, is targeting Hamas which he blames for the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers. His concern follows the recent unity deal Hamas did with the Palestinian Authority.

Hamas, which denies any involvement in the kidnapping and murder of the Israeli teenagers, has been blamed from the outset by the Israeli prime minister. As soon as news filtered through of their disappearance he said he was holding Hamas responsible.

Over 450 people were arrested, several were killed and dozens injured in aggressive searches, and raids, of the West Bank following the boys' disappearance on June 12. Following the discovery of the Israeli teens' bodies on June 30 Israel stepped up its bombing campaign of the Gaza Strip. Hamas responded with rocket fire but, according to Israeli sources, the rockets have caused no casualties or damage.

Gaza, which houses around 850,000 children among its 1.5 million population, has been under a blockade for seven years, limiting food, medical supplies and building equipment, and largely defenceless but for its sporadic, and largely useless rocket fire, and children throwing stones.

Calling its current campaign "Operation Protective Edge," Israeli army spokesman Brig.-Gen. Moti Almoz confirmed the deployment of Artillery Corps troops along the Gaza border, and the calling up of 40,000 reservists from the Central and Southern Commands.

"In the past weeks, residents of southern Israel were forced into an unbearable reality, a situation they haven't encountered in these scales since November 2012. In light of these circumstances, the IDF commenced operation 'Protective Edge'. We are determined to lay a significant blow on Hamas' terror capabilities and infrastructure, eliminate any threat on Israeli sovereignty emanating from the Gaza Strip and restore stability to the southern region. Terrorists perpetrating the aggression against Israel have a personal price to pay and will bear the consequences of their actions," Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, an Israeli army spokesman said Tuesday.

Seven Palestinians were wounded in an IDF attack in Khan Younis. Two Palestinians were killed and several wounded in an Israel Air Force attack in Gaza City, reported Ynet.

The families of the murdered Israeli and Palestinian teenagers have condemned any form of revegee and vengeance.

Palestinian-American Wadha Abukhdair, cousin of the murdered Palestinian boy Mohammed Abukhdair told Al Arabiya News on Sunday, "Mohammad was an innocent boy, he was a 16-year-old boy, he was barely 90 pounds, he wouldn't hurt anyone."

"He had nothing to do with the kidnapping or death of those three Jewish teens. No one in his family had anything to do with it, no one in the vicinity had anything to do with it, and yet he's paid the price for their death," said Wadha.

"Their death caused his death here because the Israeli government and Netanyahu continuously spoke of vengeance, they incited their people to riot and into a frenzy and some of them wanted blood. This is what happened; a vigilante act against my cousin and he had nothing to do with it."

The Palestinian teenager was allegedly beaten before being burnt to death in an apparent act of revenge for the kidnapping and murder of the Israeli teenagers. Israel has detained six people, 3 of them believed to be minors, in connection with the attack.

Prime Minister Netanyahu responded angrily to the Israeli teenagers murder. On Tuesday he met with military officials and gave directions to carry out a "systematic, continuous, deep and strong operation in Gaza," saying the time had come to "take off the gloves."

"Hamas chose this escalation, and will pay a heavy price," he said, According to The Jerusalem Post he told the security establishment to "be prepared to go all the way," including moving ground troops into Gaza. To that end, Netanyahu and Ya'alon approved the call-up of 40,000 reservists, the 'Post reported.

Netanyahu said he was not targeting Palestinian civilians, however the crammed-in population will hardly be protected from the onslaught. The Palestinians do not have the bomb shelters, warning sirens and Iron Dome missile interceptors that Israel has. Its 1.5 million population, of which more than half are children, are completely exposed to the warplanes, artillery fire, tanks , and troops that will ultimately storm their narrow strip of land.

Israel however is getting support for what is shaping up to be its biggest offensive in the Gaza Strip in two years. "We strongly condemn the continuing rocket fire into Israel and the deliberate targeting of civilians by terrorist organizations in Gaza," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a Tuesday press briefing. "No country can accept rocket fire aimed at civilians, and we certainly support Israel's right to defend itself against these attacks."

Canada also issued a statement Tuesday saying Israel had the right to defend itself. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird condemned the rocket attacks by Hamas. These "prove that Hamas continues to target innocent civilians," he said, describing the rocket fire as "belligerent acts of terrorism."

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