Day 13: Rockets hit northern Israel, death toll in Gaza reaches 700

Five Katyushas were fired from South Lebanon Thursday morning into the northern Israeli town of Nahariya, about 8km south of the Lebanese border. A second attack was reported but officials later said it was a false alarm. The rockets were fired after Israel launched 60 air strikes on the Gaza Strip overnight, bringing the death toll in Gaza to at least 700 Palestinians, including 219 children and more than 3,080 people injured.
Leaflets dropped from Israeli airplanes warn residents of Gaza of impending airstrikes. © Reuters

BEIRUT, January 8, 2008 (MENASSAT) - The Israeli military fired five artillery shells into Southern Lebanon in response to 4 rockets fired into northern Israel last night, an Israeli security source said.

About two hours after the initial attack, the rocket alert sounded again and two more Katyushas were reported near Nahariya. After an initial investigation, it became clear that the alert had been a false alarm.

Israeli Police reported that four people were wounded and several Israeli's were treated for shock.

No group has claimed responsibility for launching the rockets into Israel.

Despite reports in media suggesting that the rocket attack could have been carried out by Palestinians in southern Lebanon, officials from the Palestinian resistance group Hamas in Lebanon denied that it carried out the attack. 

"Hamas is pursuing its combat inside Palestine and our principle is not to use any other Arab soil to respond to the occupation," Raafat Morra, a Hamas spokesman, told the AFP news agency.

The rocket fire came one day after Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah warned Israel that if they decide to attack Lebanon, “Their soldiers will soon discover that their aggression in 2006 on Lebanon will be a picnic compared to what we have prepared for them.”

Information Minister Tarek Mitri told the AFP news agency he had been "assured" by Hezbollah they were not involved in the rocket attacks.

Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora condemned the attack and called for the army and the UN to investigate.

Another night of bombing in Gaza

Israel continued its offensive in Gaza overnight with 60 airstrikes.

Al Jazeera reported another night of heavy bombardment in the north around Gaza City.

"Most of the targets hit throughout the northern part of the territory included mosques and homes that have been previously struck on the previous days of this conflict. Some of the government buildings and police stations that were nearly destroyed are now completely levelled," Al Jazeera's Ayman Mohyeldin reporting from Gaza City said.

The Israeli army says it targeted police sites, 10 Hamas tunnels, weapons storage facilities, launching pads "and a number of armed gunmen."

According to the AFP, dozens of Israeli tanks had entered southern Gaza and were heading towards Rafah.

Red Cross says Israel not helping wounded

The International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) accused the Israeli military on Thursday of failing, “to meet its obligation under international humanitarian law to care for and evacuate the wounded.”

In one incident rescue workers reached a home and four small children were found alive next to their mothers' bodies. “In all there were at least 12 corpses lying on mattresses,” the report stated. 

"This is a shocking incident," said Pierre Wettach, the ICRC's head of delegation for Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. "The Israeli military must have been aware of the situation but did not assist the wounded. Neither did they make it possible for us or the Palestine Red Crescent to assist the wounded."

The ICRC is demanding that the Israeli military grant it and Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances safe passage and immediate access to search for any other wounded.

Until now, the ICRC has still not received confirmation from the Israeli authorities that this will be allowed.