Gaza

GAZA…. On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned Hamas that its recent attacks in the Gaza Strip hand to end. “I am telling them now, it may be the last minute, I’m telling them stop it,” Olmert said. “We are stronger.” Though no Israelis were killed, on Wednesday alone, Hamas fired more than 60 rockets and mortars, hitting houses and factories.

Olmert followed through on his warnings this morning.

The Israeli Air Force on Saturday launched a massive attack on Hamas targets throughout Gaza in retaliation for the recent heavy rocket fire from the area, hitting mostly security headquarters, training compounds and weapons storage facilities, the Israeli military and witnesses said.

Dr. Muawiya Hassanein, the head of emergency services at the Gaza Ministry of Health, said at least 140 Palestinians were killed in the raid.

Most were members of the security forces of Hamas, the Islamic group that controls Gaza, but a few civilians were also among the dead, including children. Scores more Palestinians were wounded.

There had been a six-month truce between Israel and Hamas, which expired on Dec. 19. Hamas renewed its rocket fire, and Israel retaliated today.

This may continue for a while — the Israeli military warned this morning that this operation “will be continued, expanded and intensified as much as will be required.”

Defense Minister Ehud Barak added at a press conference, “There is a time for calm and there is a time for fighting, and now is the time for fighting.”

This morning’s military response came by way of the air, and whether a ground offensive is next remains unclear.

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