Gaza City: Sirens wailed across the Gaza
Strip on Sunday as the still-devastated Hamas-ruled enclave marked
one year since the start of Israel`s deadliest offensive ever
launched on the territory.
Events marking the anniversary began with sirens sounding
at 0920 GMT, when the first bombs of Israel`s "Operation Cast
Lead," launched in a bid to halt years of rocket fire from the
enclave, slammed into the coastal strip.
Senior Hamas leader Ahmed Bahar struck a defiant tone,
saying the "will of the steadfast and the resistance was
victorious" at a ceremony unveiling a war memorial with the
names of hundreds of Palestinians killed in the fighting.
"Gaza was steadfast and did not fall in this ugly,
destructive war... And the resistance, which defended its land
with honour, was not broken," he said.
North of Gaza City, hundreds of people carried pictures
of the fallen past a UN school hit during the war and the
flattened house of senior Hamas leader Nizar Rayan, killed in
an air strike with his four wives and 10 children.
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya was to make a
television address in the evening, with other events planned
for the next 22 days, the length of the war.
On December 27, 2008, Israeli warplanes launched
simultaneous strikes on numerous Hamas targets throughout the
territory of 1.5 million people, raids that killed at least
225 people in what was one of the bloodiest single days in the
decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The war ended 22 days later with mutual ceasefires by
Israel and Hamas, with some 1,400 Palestinians, including more
than 400 minors, and 13 Israelis left dead.