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ISRAEL IN "ALL-OUT-WAR" WITH HAMAS

JERUSALEM-Israel is in "all-out war" with Hamas, the nation's defense minister said Monday, as Israeli jets continued to hammer targets in Gaza and the Palestinian death toll reportedly topped 300.
"We have stretched our hand in peace many times to the Palestinian people. We have nothing against the people of Gaza," Defense Minister Ehud Barak said. "But this is an all-out war against Hamas and its branches."
  • Barak's remarks to parliament came as Israeli warplanes carried out a third day of strikes against the Palestinian militant group that rules Gaza.
  • The Palestinian death toll from the campaign has topped 300, most of them Hamas militants, Palestinian medical sources said Monday. The attacks also have wounded about 650 people, the sources said. Columns of smoke rose over Gaza City, while Israeli tanks cruised along the edges of Gaza.
  • Iyad Nasr, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, said the streets of Gaza were largely empty while airstrikes continued Monday morning.
  • A U.N. spokeswoman in Gaza City described the scene as chaotic and said Palestinians were "running in all directions" and were fighting among themselves.
  • Israel says the goal of the bombardment is to stop an ongoing stream of rockets being fired from Gaza into southern Israel.
  • More than 40 rockets and mortar shells were fired into Israel on Monday despite the raids, according to Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld. More than 150 rockets have been launched into Israeli territory since the campaign began, Israel Defense Forces said
  • One of the strikes killed an Israeli at a construction site in Ashkelon, 6 miles (10 kilometers) north of Gaza, and wounded eight others, a hospital spokeswoman said. Another Israeli was killed during an attack on Kibbutz Nahal Oz, according to Israeli police and hospital spokespersons. They were the second and third Israeli fatalities since the airstrikes began Saturday.
  • Two other people were wounded in Nahal Oz, one seriously, and two people were wounded by rocket attacks in Ashdod, one seriously. One woman who was critically injured during the attack died later during an operation, according to Israeli medical sources.
At a security assessment held at the Defense Ministry, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that the operation would intensify if the rocket attacks did not stop.
  • "If Hamas does not immediately stop the criminal and intentional firing of rockets, Israel will use all the legal resources and courses of action at its disposal to force the enemy to stop its aggressive and illegal action," Barak said.
  • Olmert asked Netanyahu to join Israel's public relations efforts as he did during the Second Lebanon War. Netanyahu's spokesman said he responded affirmatively and without hesitation despite being the leader of the opposition in the middle of an election campaign.
Source : CNN , AlJAZEERA & AP
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