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70 Palestinians killed on Thursday, death toll in Gaza exceeds 1,100 after 20 days

Source:IMEMC News
Date:16/01-2009

As the Israeli offensive continued against the Gaza Strip on Thursday, Israeli soldiers killed 70 Palestinians in different areas of Gaza. Since Israel launched its offensive on Gaza twenty days ago, more than 1,100 Palestinians have been killed and over 5,100 wounded. At least 400 of the wounded are in serious conditions.

Thursday's shelling was no different from earlier attacks, targeting homes, UN facilities, hospitals and several other residential areas.

In Tal al-Hawa , in Gaza City, the Israeli Army shelled and burned the al-Quds Hospital, which belongs to the Palestinian Red Crescent, along with several branches connected to the hospital. The Israelis also shelled Tal al-Hawa Hospital, which was crowded with at least 500 wounded Palestinians and medics.

Dr. Bashar Murad, head of the Emergency Unit at the Hospital, said that the Israeli Army fired at least three shells, including two loaded with phosphorous, at the hospital causing excessive damage. The shells detonated around the hospital, but inflicted no direct injuries.

Dr. Murad added that nearly 600 residents left their homes and took shelter at the hospital after their homes where previously shelled by the Israelis.

Tanks and armored vehicles invaded Tal al-Hawa firing mostar and artilery shells, while the Israeli Air Force fired missiles to clear the area for the invading ground forces.

At least two resistance fighters were killed in clashes with invading Israeli ground forces in Tal al-Hawa.

Sami Msha'shi', head of the Communications Department at the UNRWA, issued a press release stating that several areas surrounding the regional UNRWA office in Gaza were shelled, and that one of the shells had hit a UNRWA office, completely levelling it.

He added that, due to the shelling that targeted UN offices, the UNRWA was unable to move its vehicles, and was unable to receive the humanitarian aid that is currently located at the Kerem Shalom Crossing.

Msha'shi' also said that several UNRWA storage facilities, filled with wheat, food and other humanitarian aid, were set ablaze as a result of the shelling, and that the UNRWA fears that the fire would reach fuel storage facilities intended to be delivered to hospitals in Gaza to keep fuel generators up and running.  Without the fuel generators, hospitals would have no power, meaning patients on life support would not make it.

Also, a UN Vocation Rehabilitation Center, adjacent to the Palestinian President's office, was hit with a shell on Thursday morning; at least three Palestinians were wounded in the attack.

Soldiers shelled a building which includes offices for a number of TV Stations; two employees were wounded.

Also on Thursday, the Israeli Army killed Said Siyam, member of Hamas' political bureau, after shelling his home. His son. nephew, the nephews' wife, their son, and four members of the family living next door were killed in Israel's latest political assassination.