Sun, January 11, 2009
World > Middle East > Israeli assault on Gaza

Gaza death toll reaches 854

2009-01-10 22:25:49 GMT2009-01-11 06:25:49 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

Smoke billows from Gaza City after Israeli artillery shellings Jan. 10, 2009. Residents in northern Gaza Strip said Saturday afternoon that Israeli warplanes dropped lots of leaflets in the area, warning the Palestinians that the military operations against them would be escalated. (Xinhua/Wissam Nassar)

Israeli troops stand outside the northern Gaza Strip January 10, 2009. (Xinhua/Reuters)

Explosions are seen in the northern Gaza Strip during Israel's offensive Jan. 9, 2009. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

GAZA, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- Shortly before the end of the 15th day of Israeli air and ground offensive, the Israeli warplanes and tanks intensified on Saturday night strikes on different targets in the Gaza Strip, and the death toll has reached 854, witnesses and medics said.

Gaza emergency chief Mo'aweya Hassanein told reporters the death toll since the beginning of offensive on Dec. 27 has mounted to 854 people after discovering the bodies of 18 people under destroyed houses rubbles all-over the Gaza Strip.

More than 3,500 people are wounded, he said.

Witnesses said that the last hours of the 15th day of the Israeli offensive, Israeli warplanes carried out a series of airstrikes on northern and southern Gaza Strip as well as on Gaza City, while tanks also continued its shelling.

Hassanein said 11 Palestinians were killed on Saturday night, while 19 more people were killed during the day, and more than 70 people injured.

In the latest Israeli airstrike on a house in the town of Beit Lahia in northern Gaza Strip, three members of Salma family were killed, where Hassanein said that 30 were killed during Saturday's strikes.

Medics also said that two children, who are brothers, were killed in an Israeli shelling on their house in the town of Beit Lahia in northern Gaza Strip.

The medics added that a Hamas militant was killed in northern Gaza city and two civilians were killed in an airstrike on a car in the beach refugee camp.

Witnesses said that a Hamas member's house was bombarded in central Gaza Strip, adding that several people were injured. Another factory in the area was targeted and destroyed.

Witnesses in Rafah town in southern Gaza Strip said that Israeli warplanes bombarded the border route between Gaza Strip and Egypt, where several houses and underground tunnels were destroyed.

Israeli Radio reported that one of the rockets struck a house in southern costal Israeli town of Ashkelon, wounding several Israelis and causing severe damage to the house.

Meanwhile, Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements' armed wing said in separate leaflets that their militants fired several Russian-made and homemade rockets from Gaza at Israel.

Exiled Hamas politburo leader Khaled Meshaal said on Saturday in a televised statement in Damascus that his group would consider a truce after Israel stopped its offensive against the Gaza Strip and lift blockade on the territory.

He added that Hamas would only work with any initiative or resolution based on these demands and talk about a truce as before, noting that they would not accept a permanent truce because when "there is occupation, there is resistance."

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