Press TV & Matthew Weaver and agencies / The Guardian – 2009-01-05 23:29:17
Depleted Uranium Found in Gaza Victims
GAZA (January 4, 2009) — Medics tell Press TV they have found traces of depleted uranium in some Gaza residents wounded in Israel’s ground offensive on the strip.
Norwegian medics told Press TV correspondent Akram al-Sattari that some of the victims who have been wounded since Israel began its attacks on the Gaza Strip on December 27 have traces of depleted uranium in their bodies.
The report comes after Israeli tanks and troops swept across the border into Gaza on Saturday night, opening a ground operation after eight days of intensive attacks by Israeli air and naval forces on the impoverished region.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned on Sunday that the wide-ranging ground offensive in the Gaza Strip would be “full of surprises.”
A ground offensive in the densely-populated Gaza is expected to drastically increase the death toll of the civilian population.
The latest assaults bring the number of Palestinians killed to over 488 with 2790 others wounded. The UN says that about 25 percent of the casualties were civilian deaths – including at least 34 children.
According to Israeli army officials, at least 30 of its soldiers have been wounded since the start of the ground campaign.
Amid global condemnation of the ongoing violence in the region, the UN Security Council failed to agree on a united approach to resolve the crisis.
“Once again, the world is watching in dismay the dysfunctionality of the Security Council,” UN General Assembly chief Miguel d’Escoto said Sunday.
According to diplomatic sources, the US blocked a Security Council resolution, with US Deputy Ambassador Alejandro Wolff arguing that an official statement that criticizes both Israel and Hamas would not be helpful.
The White House has so far declined to comment on whether an Israeli ground incursion into Gaza is a justified measure.
War Crimes: Israel Fires Artillery Shells into Mosque Filled with Civilians
Matthew Weaver and agencies / The Guardian
GAZA (January 3, 2009) — Israel unleashed an artillery bombardment on Gaza today for the first time in its week-long offensive, prompting increased speculation that a ground invasion is about to begin.
Palestinian medical officials also said that an Israeli airstrike on a Gaza mosque had killed 10 people and wounded dozens more. Al Jazeera quoted witnesses as saying there were at least 200 people at prayer inside the Ibrahim al-Maqadna mosque in northern Gaza when the missile struck.
The Israeli TV station Channel 10 said the entire length of the Gaza Strip was under attack. Palestinian witnesses told Reuters the shelling had caused a large explosion in Gaza City and there were a series of blasts close to the frontier with Israel. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Israeli TV commentators said shelling could be used to clear Hamas-laid minefields ahead of a possible ground invasion. Israeli troops are massed on the border waiting for orders to go in.
Speaking from Syria, the exiled Hamas leader, Khaled Mashaal, warned that any ground assault would lead Israel to “a black destiny of dead and wounded”.
Sustained artillery fire is likely to significantly increase the number of civilian casualties, according to a report on the website of the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz.
Israel’s first artillery use came shortly after Gordon Brown telephoned his Israeli counterpart, Ehud Olmert, urging him to stop the attacks.
“The prime minister has spoken again today to Prime Minister Olmert, and is pressing hard for an immediate ceasefire,” a Downing Street spokesman said. “We are working urgently with international partners to address the underlying causes of the conflict, including trafficking of arms into Gaza … Moderation must prevail.”
Earlier today,Israeli aircraft and gunboats continued attacking targets in Gaza. The Israelis struck the homes of two Hamas operatives, saying the buildings were used to store weapons and plan attacks. Hamas said one of its military leaders, Abu Zakari al-Jamal, was killed in an air raid last night.
More than 400 Palestinians and at least four Israelis have been killed since Israel launched its offensive last Saturday. The UN estimated yesterday that a quarter of the Palestinians killed were civilians.
George Bush today blamed the continuing violence on Hamas terrorism and offered no criticism of Israel in his first comments since the offensive began a week ago.
The US president condemned Hamas’s campaign of rocket attacks on Israel as an “act of terror” and said no peace deal would be acceptable unless the flow of smuggled weapons to terrorist groups was monitored and stopped.
“This recent outburst of violence was instigated by Hamas, a Palestinian terrorist group supported by Iran and Syria that calls for Israel’s destruction,” he said.
The White House will not comment on whether it views the Israeli response as proportionate.
In his weekly radio address, Bush said Washington was “leading diplomatic efforts to achieve a meaningful ceasefire that is fully respected”.
He said he would keep the president-elect, Barack Obama, updated on the negotiations. Obama has refused to comment on the crisis while Bush remains in office.
The UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon last night urged world leaders to intensify efforts to achieve an immediate ceasefire.
Israel has said it will accept a ceasefire only if it is enforced by international monitors.
Palestinian militants continued to fire rockets into southern Israel today. There were no injuries, though one rocket hit a house in the southern city of Ashkelon, police said.
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