According to the Palestinian prime minister, the IDF’s use of non-conventional weapons is proved by the large number of casualties on the Palestinian side, which currently stands at over 35 killed and more than 160 wounded, 20 of whom were in serious to critical condition.
Speaking to the Palestinian news agency Ramatan, Haniyeh said the Israeli operation pointed first and foremost to the intra-Israeli arena and was meant to cover up the Israeli army’s “failure and defeat in Lebanon.”
He also charged that the extensive operation in Gaza constitutes an advance to Avigdor Lieberman, chairman of the Right wing Israel Our Home party, joining the government. “The third aspect is the fact that the operation comes in the frame of pressures on the Palestinian people and an attempt to influence the Palestinian political arena,” Haniyeh added.
Haniyeh called on the international community to interfere and stop the Israeli operation. He expressed astonishment over the global silence over Israel’s military operations in the past three days.
“I call on everyone to carry the responsibility for the killing of women, children and elderly. I call on anyone who calls on us to make concessions to take a good look at what is happening here, to witness how Israel is daily massacring the Palestinian people,” he said.
Haniyeh: This is slaughter
Haniyeh declared that Israel’s actions would not manage to break or subdue the Palestinian people, and all of its cohorts in its scheme against the Palestinians will not achieve their goals. “This is not an escalation,” he said, “but a slaughter approved at the highest Israeli level, against everything Palestinian.”
With that, the IDF continued its raid against Qassam cells across the Gaza Strip. On Friday night two al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades operatives were killed when a missile hit their vehicle near Jabaliya in north Gaza. In addition, four Hamas operatives were hurt and one killed by an IDF missile in Rafah. The IDF noted that the operatives were involved in making Qassam rockets.
In a separate incident a number of operatives from the al-Quds Brigades - the armed wing of the Islamic Jihad - and the Salah al-Din Brigades – the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, were hurt. Meanwhile, Palestinians continued to report that they were reinforcing their operatives in areas in which the IDF was operating despite the blockade on the northern Gaza Strip.
UN: Exercise restraint
Meanwhile on Friday UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued a statement expressing concern over Israel's operations in Gaza.
The UN "urges Israel to exercise maximum restraint, do their utmost to protect civilians and to refrain from further escalating an already grave situation," the statement said. Annan also called on Palestinians to stop firing rockets against Israeli civilian targets.
"All concerned should remember that continuing violence is liable to make the search for a just and lasting peace in the region even more difficult,” the statement said.
Yitzhak Benhorin contributed to the report