Air assaults against Gaza to go on: Israel

Last Updated: Sunday, March 11, 2012 - 20:57

Jerusalem: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
on Sunday warned that Israeli air assaults against Gaza would go
on "as long as it is necessary", as the death toll in renewed
violence in the Palestinian coastal territory rose to 18.

"We have exacted from them a very high price. We will
continue to operate as long as it is necessary," Netanyahu
told his ministers at a weekly cabinet meeting asserting that
the country was on "high alert" to prevent any terror attack.

Israeli air strikes on Gaza today killed three, including
a 12-year-old boy, as violence on the troubled border
continued for a third day.

Medical spokesman in Gaza, Adham Abu Salmiya, said Ayoub
Useila, 12, was killed in the Jabaliya refugee camp and his
seven year old cousin injured in an attack. Israeli jets also
pounded the Zeitoun neighbourhood of Gaza City, killing Ahmad
Deib Salim, 24.

The third victim of Israeli air strikes was Adel al-Issi,
52, a farmer who was also killed in the Gaza City, Abu Salmiya
said, bringing the death toll since Friday evening to 18.
Israel Defence Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff, Benny Gantz,
said more than 120 rockets were fired at Israel since Friday
and his forces would continue to retaliate with force to
protect Israeli citizens.

Gantz noted that 20 per cent of the rockets fired from
Gaza on major population centres in Israel`s south were
intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system. "The IDF has
demonstrated accurate interception abilities," he said.

"The IDF has retaliated and will continue to retaliate
with force and sensitivity against any firing directed at
Israel. Hamas and other terror groups continue to gain
strength at an alarming rate. We do not seek escalation but
Hamas controls Gaza," Gantz stressed.

Violence between Israel and Gaza militants erupted on
Friday afternoon when an Israeli strike killed the leader of
the ultra-hardline Popular Resistance Committees, Zohair
al-Qaisi, sparking a bloody cross-border exchange.

Netanyahu justified the attack saying "he was in the
midst of planning another attack that was directed at our
southern border with Egypt" and Foreign Minister Avigdor
Lieberman called him "a ticking bomb".

Meanwhile, Egypt was making efforts to halt a further
escalation in violence.

"Egypt is in a race against time in order to halt
hostilities as soon as possible to avoid further escalations,"
Egyptian ambassador to the Palestinian territories, Yasser
Othman, told the Palestinian Ma`an News Agency.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, March 11, 2012 - 20:57

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