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Israel destroys Hamas headquarters in Gaza City

November 17, 2012|By Edmund Sanders
  • Palestinian firefighters work at the scene of an Israeli air strike on a building in the Jebaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip.
Palestinian firefighters work at the scene of an Israeli air strike on a… (Hatem Moussa / Associated…)

GAZA CITY — Back-and-forth violence between Israel and Hamas left civilians on both sides digging out of rubble and broken glass Saturday as the conflict entered its fourth day.

After another night of Israeli air strikes, the death toll in Gaza jumped to 38 people, including 11 children, hospital officials said.

Israel expanded its targets to include several high-profile Hamas institutions, including Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh’s headquarters, a police compound, the Interior Ministry and the home of an Interior Ministry official.

PHOTOS: Israel-Gaza violence escalates

Israel Defense Forces released a video of the strike against the Hamas headquarters. They said a secondary explosion that took place after their missile struck proved that the site was being used to store munitions.

By Saturday morning, the building was a twisted pile of glass and cement, reeking of fuel from an exploded generator. Hamas supporters planted several Palestinian flags in the wreckage.

Next door, unemployed engineer Mahmoud Abu Mohamed, 65, swept up the broken windows of his family home. He was praying at the mosque down the street when the early-morning strike took place. Frantic, he rushed back to check on his wife and children, but everyone was OK.

He had been worried that Israel might strike the Hamas building next door but said his family has no other place to live. Even with all his windows broken, the family plans to stay put.

At Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, several members of the Salah family were fighting for their lives after an Israeli air strike destroyed their three-story home in Jabalia.

Ibrahim Salah, a Hamas official, suffered a fractured skull, and his wife lay unconscious. A granddaughter, Lina, 2, was also injured.

“There were five children in the house,’’ said Fatma Salah, 20, daughter of Ibrahim. “We received no warning. We’ve never been targeted before. It’s a miracle no one was killed.”

Her still-frightened daughter lay in a hospital bed next to her with bandages wrapped around her head, connected to an IV feeding tube. Another boy, Mohamed, 3, seemed oblivious to the cuts on his face and more interested in the crush of well-wishers and journalists.

Fatma and her children were on the top floor of the building when it collapsed. Her parents were crushed beneath them, she said.

She too was trapped until someone freed her leg from the broken cement. The worst part, she said, was being separated from her children.

In Israel, three people were injured Saturday by rockets fired into southern Israel.

The military released a photo of one house in Ashdod, where window frames and glass shards blanketed one home’s living room.

“Good thing the family wasn’t sitting in their living room when this happened,’’ the IDF said on its Twitter account.

PHOTOS: Israel-Gaza violence escalates


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