Fighting and Diplomacy Continue

Cairo, Egypt (RushPRnews) 01/14/09–United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon held talks in Cairo today and heads to Israel, as part of a Middle East tour to try to bring an end to the fighting in Gaza. Yet the conflict grinds on in Gaza, with more than 970 Palestinians now estimated killed in Israel’s military offensive. Nineteen days into the offensive and the fighting shows no sign of letting up.

Israeli aircraft attacked about 60 targets, overnight, including the Hamas police headquarters in Gaza City. Plumes of smoke from bombs, shells and explosions were again visible over Gaza.

“In the morning it was a bit quiet, but then the whole thing started to change when they bombarded a cemetery and the Gaza central park, the municipal park, which is the largest in Gaza City,”said Palestinian Mohammed Dawwas, a journalist reporting for VOA from Gaza City. “Gaza was full of white smoke. It covered Gaza from these strikes.”

Dawwas lives in the center of Gaza City. He says he could not see Israeli troops, but could hear shooting and shelling.

“They [the Israeli troops] are not really far from the center. They’re on the edges of southern Gaza [city], on the edges of northern Gaza,” he said. “It looks like they’re besieging Gaza from every place. There are battles on the ground, battles between them [the Israelis] and Hamas groups, Islamic Jihad groups, these guys.”

Israel’s military says more work lies ahead to complete the mission of halting Hamas rocket fire into southern Israel.

Militants in Gaza fired several rockets into Israel Wednesday.

Several rockets also hit northern Israel from neighboring Lebanon, landing near Kiriyat Shmona. No casualties were reported and there was no immediate claim of responsibility. It was the second such attack in a week and Israel responded with artillery fire.

Medical sources in Gaza say more than 970 Palestinians have been killed in nearly three weeks of air strikes, bombardments and fighting, including some 400 women and children.

Humanitarian workers continue to warn of a catastrophe. The head of the International Committee for the Red Cross visited Gaza, Tuesday, and said he was shocked by what he saw. He urged both sides to spare civilians and let emergency personnel carry out their work.