Israel's occuption security cabinet authorized the military to enlarge an interdiction zone in northern Gaza after an unprecedented Palestinian rocket attack in the coastal city of Ashkelon claimed by Hamas armed wing.
The group had called on Israel to take lessons from the shelling of Ashkelon, saying that Israel should prepare itself for more surprises. It warned that retaliation will be painful if Israeli aggressions continue. Overnight Israel shelled the interior ministry causing damage and injuries to civilians mainly women and children.
Usually Qassam rockets strike the edges of the coastal Israeli city of Ashkelon but this was the first time that a rocket hit its center. Hamas armed wing which claimed responsibility for the rocket firing said the home-made missile was a revised one fired from a 15-km distance. The group said there are longer range missiles, and warned Israel of harsh and similar retaliation to Israeli attacks.
Israel's security cabinet that urgently convened following the rocket launching gave the go-ahead for forming a security zone that will be enforced by aircraft and artillery with Israel already stepping up its week long offensive on Gaza.
The firing of rockets signalled a strong message for the Israelis that the battle will stretch out to Israeli cities and towns, if they keep on ruling out negotiations over a swap deal with three Palestinian groups that captured the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit 10 days ago in return for the release of 1,000 detainees as well as detained women and children.
Israel had rejected a 24-hour ultimatum set by the groups: Hamas armed wing, the Popular Resistance committees, and the Army of Islam saying it would never negotiate with them.
The groups said they would spare the life of Shalit but made it clear that there is no room for negotiations anymore and that no further information about the fate of Shalit will be revealed.
Arab and international diplomacy is still active to secure a way out of the crisis, and Hamas-led government said negotiations should continue.
Palestinian Prime Minister, ISMAIL HANIYEH said "The Palestinian government, since the first moment regarding this topic, has sent a clear message and it continues to hold the same position - to keep the soldier alive and to treat him well... We assure the importance of the continuation of political and diplomatic and negotiating efforts and will not close the door to the language of reason to bring this problem to an end, considering it a humanitarian issue rather than a political issue"
But Israel's mounting aggression is a major obstacle to finding a solution to the standoff. Hamas's armed wing had already threatened to resume attacks inside lands occupied in 1948 warning of a "sea of blood" should a massive military assault on Gaza not cease. Israel however struck Gaza again for the eighth successive night. Palestinian civilians continue to pay the price.
Gaza residents were sleeping when a sound of a massive explosion woke them up terrified. Shrapnel and rubble flew from the five-story Interior Ministry building that was hit by Israeli missiles onto nearby houses. Ambulances rushed to the area to tend to the wounded most of them elderly and little children. It was the second strike on the ministry building in less than a week.
Mosharef Al-Bzour, Resident of damaged house said "There are houses near the Interior Ministry and I think the Interior Ministry is a governmental institute, not a terrorist institute, and what the Israeli Forces did is organized terrorism."
More Israeli aircraft bombed a training camp used by Hamas in the southern Gaza Strip. Warplanes also attacked and damaged a Hamas-run school in northern Gaza.
Dozens of Israeli tanks, bulldozers and personnel carriers have been deployed at the entrances of Gaza threatening of a massive ground offensive on the area should Shalit remains in captivity.
Attacks stretched on to the West Bank. Israeli troops in 15 jeeps surrounded the home of Hamas parliament speaker Aziz Dweik. Troops in the city of Jericho shot dead a Palestinian in the nearby Ein al-Sultan camp.
Source: Al ManarLast Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16