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RIA Novosti

World

Half of Gaza dead 'children, women and elderly'

10:13 11/01/2009
DAMASCUS, January 11 (RIA Novosti) - Just under half of the fatalities in Israel's ongoing attack on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip are children, women or elderly people, a Palestinian health ministry official has said.

A representative for Gaza's health ministry told journalists that 854 Palestinians had so far died in Israel's two-week long attack on the enclave of 1.5 million people. A total of 270 of the dead are children, 68 women, and 90 elderly people, he added.

He also said that around 4,000 people had been wounded, including some 400 children in a serious condition.

The New York-based rights group Human Rights Watch has accused Israel of using white phosphorous in its attacks on Gaza. Israel has denied the claim.

Thirteen Israelis have lost their lives since the military operation began, including four in rocket attacks by Palestinian militants on south Israel.

As demonstrations took place around the world against Israel's ongoing military operation, launched in response to rocket attacks on its territory from Gaza, a top Hamas leader said the bombing had "finished off the last chance" for a peaceful settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal told the Al- Jazeera news channel that, "We want another intifada in Palestine and on the Arab street."

"The Palestinian resistance is in good shape and is continuing to respond to the bombing with attacks on Israeli territory," he added.

However, he did not rule out a negotiated settlement to the current violence.

As fears grew that Tel Aviv was looking to intensify its ground operation, the Israeli military dropped leaflets on Gaza warning residents that the "third phase" of the military operation was scheduled to begin. It also warned locals to stay away from areas used by Hamas.

In Cairo, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas urged all parties involved in the conflict to accept an Egyptian-French ceasefire initiative. His comment came after a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

However, Israel and Hamas have both shown no inclination to lay down arms, with both sides ignoring a UN Security Council call for an immediate ceasefire.

Israel has said the continued rocket attacks by Palestinian militants proved that the resolution was "unworkable", while Hamas has always insisted that any truce should include a cessation of Israel's economic blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The radical Islamic group Hamas has controlled the Gaza Strip since the summer of 2007, when it took over the enclave after clashes with Abbas' Fatah movement.

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RIA NovostiHalf of Gaza dead 'children, women and elderly'

10:13 11/01/2009 Just under half of the fatalities in Israel's ongoing attack on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip are children, women or elderly people, a Palestinian health ministry official has said. >>

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