Israeli aircraft attacked Hamas targets in Gaza yesterday, the third day of an offensive that has killed more than 300 Palestinians, many of them civilians. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency said at least 57 of the dead were civilians. Hamas defied the strongest assault against Palestinian militants in decades by launching a rocket attack on Israel that killed one person. Israel declared areas around Gaza a "closed military zone," citing the risk from Palestinian rocket fire, and ordering journalists observing a buildup of armoured forces to leave.
In the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, a rocket launched from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip killed one person.
Mark Regev, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, said the military action would go on until the population in southern Israel "no longer live in terror and in fear of constant rocket barrages."
Broadening their targets to include the Hamas government, Israeli warplanes bombed the Gaza Interior Ministry yesterday.
In what it called a "terrorist" attack, the Israeli military said a Palestinian stabbed three Israelis in the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba in the West Bank before he was shot by a passerby and arrested.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum urged Palestinian groups on Sunday to use "all available means, including martyrdom operations" against Israel. The Gaza offensive has enraged Arabs across the Middle East. Protesters burned Israeli and U.S. flags in several places to press for a stronger response from their leaders.