GAZA CITY – Israeli occupation forces pushed into the Gaza strip on Thursday, July 5, killing at least eleven Palestinians, while thousands of Gazans took to the streets calling for national dialogue between the rival Fatah and Hamas.
Israeli troops and tanks rolled across the border into the central Gaza Strip to the outskirts of the Mughazi refugee camp, where they got locked in heavy fire fights with Palestinian resistance fighters, reported Agence France Presse (AFP).
The Israeli military called in two air strikes during the fighting that raged all day, killing five members of Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, medics and witnesses said.
Another was killed in fighting in the same area.
Several hours later a member of the Islamic Jihad was killed by an Israeli rocket that witnesses and medics said was fired at a group of people seeking to rescue a wounded person.
An eighth died in fighting in the same area, but his identity was not immediately known, while another three were killed in center of the Gaza Strip.
A cameraman working for Hamas’s Al-Aqsa television had both legs amputated after he was deliberately targeted by Israeli troops.
Imad Ghanem, 23, was first injured by a tank shell before the Israeli troops shot his crumpled body twice as it lay on the ground.
An Israeli army source insisted Hamas television cameramen "cannot be considered as journalists."
The occupation troops were also operating in northern Gaza on the outskirts of Beit Hanun town, where two other Palestinians were wounded overnight.
Thursday’s deaths bring to 5,783 the number of people killed since the outbreak of Al-Aqsa Intifada in September 2000, mostly Palestinians, according to an AFP tally.
Thirteen Palestinians were killed and more than 40 wounded in an extensive Israeli ground incursion in southern and northern Gaza on Wednesday, June 27.
As Israel pushed through with its military offensive, several thousands of Palestinians took to the streets of Gaza to call for dialogue between Fatah and Hamas.
Carrying giant Palestinian flags and placards saying "yes to dialogue, no to arrests", they marched through Gaza streets.
"Abbas and Haniyeh, we want national unity," read one of the placards, referring to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and sacked prime minister Ismail Haniyeh.
Abbas sacked Haniya, a senior Hamas official, as prime minister of a national unity government on June 14 just hours before the entire Gaza Strip fell to Hamas fighters.
The Palestinian leader, backed by the US and the West, has ruled out any dialogue with Hamas and accused the group of orchestrating a coup d’etat in Gaza.
Heavyweight Egypt has recently urged both sides to go back to the dialogue table to repair their ruptured relations.
President Hosni Mubarak’s spokesman Suleiman Awad said Egypt and Saudi Arabia were ready to resume mediation between rival Palestinians.
(Islamonline.net + News Agencies – July 5, 2007)