The IDF renewed airstrikes and artillery fire at the Gaza Strip Tuesday, hitting the Strip's main power plant and cutting electricity to many parts of Gaza, indicating hopes of a swift end to 22 days of fighting were unlikely to actualize.
IAF aircraft hit Tuesday the house of Hamas Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh before dawn on Tuesday, causing damage but no casualties, Gaza's interior ministry said, as well as government offices and the headquarters of the Hamas satellite TV station.
In the past hour, with the help of leaflets and phone calls, the IDF has called on the residents of Gaza neighborhoods located east of Khan Younis to evacuate immediately to the city's center, ahead of a possible attack.
Hamas leaders remained defiant in the aftermath of the Israeli onslaught.
Haniyeh: My house is not more valuable than the houses of other people
"My house is not more valuable than the houses of other people, destroying stones will not break our determination," Haniyeh said in a statement.
Speaking to a Hamas website, he added that "The destruction of stones will not break our will and we will continue our resistance until we gain freedom."
According to the IDF, 70 targets were struck in Gaza through the night. At least 30 people were killed in the assaults from air, land and sea, residents said, after a night of the most widespread attacks so far in the coastal enclave.
|IDF attacks Gaza overnight (Video: Ido Becker)|
IDF tank shells hit a fuel tank of the Gaza Strip's only power plant on Tuesday, forcing the plant to shut down, a spokesman for Gaza's electricity distribution company said.
There was no immediate word of casualties and the IDF had no comment. According to Jamal Dardasawi, the spokesman of the electricity distribution company, the shells hit one of three tanks in the plant compound that currently store fuel.
Deputy chairman of the Gaza Energy Authority said the power plant was the only one in Gaza and would be disabled for the entire whole year following damage caused to the gasoline tanks as a result of IDF attacks.
Even before the strike, Gaza residents had electricity for only about three hours a day. The strike is bound to reduce supplies even further.
Smoke rises over Gaza (Photo: EPA)
Eleven people were killed in a strike on a house in the Bureij refugee camp in Gaza City as IDF forces hit targets across the territory in the most widespread night of attacks so far in the coastal enclave.
IDF forces fired hundreds of flares that turned the night sky bright orange. By daybreak Tuesday, a cloud of thick dust from the explosions hung over Gaza City. A Palestinian health official put the overall Gaza death toll at 1,110.
The IDF said five soldiers had died
in a gun battle with militants who crossed into Israel via a tunnel near the community of Nahal Oz, close to the border with the Gaza Strip. The incident on Monday raised to 10 the number of military fatalities for the day. Fifty-three Israeli soldiers have been killed since Israel launched its offensive on Gaza.
Hamas said that its broadcast outlets, Al-Aqsa TV and Al-Aqsa Radio were also targeted. The television station continued to broadcast, but the radio station went silent.
Hamas-run Al Aqsa television (Photo: AP)
At dawn Tuesday, plumes of smoke rose above the Al Shorouq media building in central Gaza City which houses the offices of the Hamas-run Al Aqsa television and radio.
Overnight attacks on Gaza (Photo: Ido Erez)
Hours earlier, at least two major explosions hit the media building, one of the tallest in Gaza, starting a fire on the roof and shaking surrounding buildings.
Gaza media building (Photo: AP)
AP video showed a massive flash as the first strike hit the top of the building, sending debris raining down. The building also houses offices of a number of Arab satellite television news channels.
The Abu Khadra government complex in Gaza City was also badly damaged by the Israeli attacks.
Israel launched its offensive on July 8 with the aim of halting rocket attacks by Hamas and its allies. It later ordered a land invasion to find and destroy the warren of Hamas tunnels that cross-crosses the border area.
In a televised address on Monday night, a grim-faced Netanyahu said any solution to the crisis would require the demilitarization of the Palestinian territory, controlled by Hamas Islamists and their militant allies.
"We will not finish the mission, we will not finish the operation without neutralizing the tunnels, which have the sole purpose of destroying our citizens, killing our children," Netanyahu said, adding that it had been a "painful day".
The overnight strikes came after a day of heavy Hamas-Israeli fighting in which nine children were killed by a strike on a Gaza park where they were playing, according to Palestinian health officials - a tragedy that each side blamed on the other.
Israeli tanks also resumed heavy shelling in border areas of Gaza, killing five people, including three children and a 70-year-old woman, and wounding 50 in the town of Jebaliya, which was among the areas warned to evacuate, the Red Crescent said.
Many Jebaliya residents said they did not dare attempt an escape. Sufian Abed Rabbo said his extended family of 17 had taken refuge under the stairway in their home.
Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report