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March 2, 2008
Israel Steps up Gaza Attacks
In response to a rain of Kassam rockets on Israeli towns, the IDF has entered Gaza in force and is cleaning out suspected launch sites as well as punishing Hamas:
Israeli aircraft and troops attacked Palestinian positions in northern Gaza on Saturday, killing at least 54 people and wounding more than 100 in the deadliest day of fighting in more than a year. Two Israeli soldiers were killed and seven wounded, the military said. In his usual understated way, PA President Mahmoud Abbas claimed the attacks were "worse than the Holocaust:
The Israeli attacks, mostly from the air on a clear, bright day, were aimed at stopping rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, the Israelis said, especially after Ashkelon, a large city 10 miles from Gaza, came under fire from more advanced, Katyusha-style rockets of Iranian design.
Half the dead were reported to be Hamas gunmen or those belonging to affiliated groups like Islamic Jihad. But at least 19 Palestinian civilians also died in the heavily populated area, including four children, according to Dr. Moawiya Hassanain of the Gazan Health Ministry.
More than 80 Palestinians have died since fighting surged on Wednesday; in addition to the soldiers, an Israeli died in Sderot from a rocket, and six Israelis were wounded Saturday from rocket strikes in Ashkelon.
Abbas said that Israel's response to the continuous bombardment of western Negev towns by Palestinian terrorists was too severe, saying that its operations which have left at least 80 Palestinians dead on Saturday were unacceptable retaliation to the firing of rockets. Perhaps when the Palestinian leaders pay their next visit to planet earth, the Israelis will be willing to talk peace.
The Fatah head was not the only Palestinian leader to be associating the military maneuvers with the Holocaust - exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal described the operations as "the real Holocaust" on Saturday afternoon. "
Israeli actions in Gaza since Wednesday is the real Holocaust," Mashaal told reporters in Damascus, where he lives in exile. He accused Israel of "exaggerating the Holocaust and using it to blackmail the world."