After Palestinian militants fired rockets at the heart of Israel Friday, Israeli warplanes carried out 180 air strikes overnight, Israel TV reported, with the strikes levelling the headquarters of the Hamas government.
“It’s like a real-life horror movie, what I saw ... It’s a miracle we’re still alive,” said 18-year-old Suha, standing in front of her house. Medics said 40 Gazans have been killed and more than 350 wounded since Israel launched an aerial campaign on the enclave on Wednesday afternoon, with at least five militants among the 10 people killed in Saturday’s raids.
As the toll rose, sirens went off in Tel Aviv for a third day running, sending people scuttling for cover, a day after a rocket crashed into the sea near the city centre. The fire was claimed by Hamas’s armed wing.
While Cairo was at the centre of efforts to halt the violence, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti appealed for a truce in a telephone conversation with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu, Monti’s office said.
On Saturday, four Israeli soldiers and five civilians were hurt in separate rocket attacks on the south which hit a building and a car, police and the army said. Another militant group in Gaza, Islamic Jihad, claimed those attacks.
Overnight, the air force hit Gaza City, targeting Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya’s headquarters, other government buildings, including the interior ministry and police compound, militant training facilities and “dozens of terror sites,” it said.
Sources said the headquarters, which had been emptied, was reduced to a pile of rubble but there were no reports of casualties.
Saturday’s violence came as Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafik Abdessalem paid a brief solidarity visit to Gaza, a day after a similar mission by Egyptian PM Hisham Qandil.
President Barack Obama reiterated US support for Israel’s right to defend itself during a telephone call with Netanyahu.