Israel air strikes hit Hamas HQ

Israeli air strikes have targeted the headquarters of Gaza's Hamas leaders, as the bombardment of the coastal enclave moved into a fourth day.
 
Hamas policeman guards destroyed office of PM Ismail Haniyeh (17 Nov) Pre-dawn air strikes targeted Hamas' government buildings in Gaza City

Witnesses reported extensive damage to the building, which Egypt's PM Hisham Qandil had visited on Friday.

At least 30 Palestinians and three Israelis have died since Israel killed Hamas's military chief on Wednesday.

Israel earlier put 75,000 reservists on stand-by amid speculation of a ground invasion.

Militants in Gaza have continued to fire rockets into Israel, aiming at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem on Friday.
Drones over Gaza
After a lull overnight - with correspondents reporting that the area was quiet but for the almost-constant buzz of drones overhead - Gaza City was hit by a string of large explosions shortly after 03:00 (01:00) on Saturday.

There was another series of strikes in and around the city shortly after 05:00, with several targeting Hamas' cabinet buildings, which correspondents say were likely to have been empty.

The BBC's Jon Donnison tweeted:
"Five big air strikes now shaking my room. Feels close."
Our correspondent cited Gaza sources as saying bodies were trapped under rubble at a house hit in Jabalia, north of Gaza City. Casualty figures remain unclear.

Israel's military said it had targeted 180 sites since midnight.

As well as Hamas buildings, Israeli aircraft targeted electricity transformers and the network of tunnels used to smuggle goods and weapons from Egypt into Gaza, reports said.

Rumours have been swirling that a ground attack is imminent, but Israeli officials say no decision has been made.

Israel blocked access to three major routes leading into Gaza on Friday; call-up papers have already been sent to 16,000 Israeli reservists, with officials authorising the mobilisation of another 75,000.

Militants and civilians, including at least seven children, have been among the Palestinians killed during the Israeli bombardment, Hamas says.

The group's military leader Ahmed Jabari was killed by an Israeli air strike on Wednesday. A senior commander was killed on Friday, officials said.

Two Israeli women and a man died when a rocket hit a building in the southern town of Kiryat Malachi on Thursday, officials said.
Mursi praised

Before the recent offensive, Israel had repeatedly carried out air strikes on Gaza, as Palestinian militants fired rockets across the border.

On Friday, Hamas said it fired rockets at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem: Haaretz newspaper said it was the first time since 1970 that a rocket had been fired at Jerusalem.

Israel's army says the operation - codenamed Pillar of Defense - has hit more than 800 sites in Gaza, including underground rocket launchers & infrastructure.

It said some 550 rockets had been fired into Israel from Gaza since Wednesday, a quarter of which had been intercepted by its radar defence system - Iron Dome.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has accused Israel of carrying out "massacres".

Western leaders and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon have appealed for both sides to stop the escalation in violence.
Called by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, US President Barack Obama reiterated his country's support for Israel's "right to defend itself".

Mr Obama also spoke to Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi, praising his efforts to pacify the situation in Gaza, added the spokesman.

Mr Mursi has called the Israeli raids "a blatant aggression against humanity" and promised that Egypt "will not leave Gaza on its own".

Ties between Hamas and Egypt have strengthened since Mr Mursi's election earlier this year.

Hamas was formed as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, to which Mr Mursi belongs.
 

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