None of Gaza's militant factions claimed responsibility for the deadly rocket that struck a house in Beit Lahiya. The two victims, ages 5 and 12, were cousins, Gaza health ministry official Moiaya Hassanain said. Three other children were wounded, he said. Hamas police said they would investigate.
The girls were the first Palestinian civilians inadvertently killed by militants since their truce with Israel began collapsing last month. In all, 13 rockets and mortars were fired toward Israel by last evening, the military said. One Israeli home was struck but no injuries were reported there.
Israel allowed 106 trucks loaded with humanitarian supplies into the Gaza Strip yesterday, about a week since the previous delivery was permitted entry. Some say that Israel allows supplies to enter before it launches military operations. Others hope that the supplies are meant to coax the Palestinians into ending the rocket attacks.
The amount of aid allowed in, however, fell short of what Gazans say the need. Until May of 2007, Israel allowed Gazans to receive an average of 1,300 truckloads a week. But after Hamas retained control of Gaza in June of 2007, Israel imposed a blockade, and that number dropped drastically.
As part of a six-month truce drawn in June this year between Israel and Hamas, Israel agreed to stop military attacks in Gaza and to partially lift the blockade. For their part, Palestinian militants were to stop shooting rockets into Israel.
The truce held until Nov. 4, when Israeli forces entered Gaza and killed six militants whom it said were preparing a tunnel into Israel. Palestinians responded with rockets, the violence spiralled and Israel further reduced the amounts of food and fuel allowed into Gaza.
Lack of fuels means residents of Gaza have no electricity up to 16 hours a day and little gas for cooking. Some Gazans have built clay ovens to cook or burn wood. Hospitals generate electricity with diesel brought in through illegal tunnels. Water supplies depending on pumps also are severely limited. Israel is also barring foreign journalists from entering Gaza.
Now Israeli leaders are under great pressure to take massive military action after violence peaked this week when Israel killed three Palestinian militants and Palestinians responded by shooting more than 80 rockets into Israel. Radical right-wing Israeli parliamentarian Arye Eldad called for the arrest of Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak for not taking military action in Gaza.
But Israel is loath to invade Gaza knowing that military operations have not been able to stop the rockets in the past. At the same time, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who is up for election as prime minister in seven weeks, does not want to appear weak before Israeli citizens. According to a poll published in the Israeli daily Maariv, her Kadima party is now neck-and-neck with the right-wing Likud party led by Benjamin Netanyahu.
The anticipated Israeli military attack has caused Egypt to tighten security at its border with Gaza, fearing that Palestinians might try to rush for an exit. Last January, Hamas militants blew holes in the enormous wall along the border with Egypt in order to allow hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to exit and stock up on food and other supplies made scarce by the Israeli blockade
In: Middle East
Tags: None of Gaza's militants claimed responsibility for 2 victims, ages 5 and 12
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