Just a few hours after the UN Security Council failed to demand an immediate Gaza ceasefire, Israeli warplanes bombed out o Thursday, January 1, several targets and killed a senior Hamas leader and his family.
"It was like an earthquake," a resident of the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Missiles fired by an Israeli F-16 at a five-storey house in Jabaliya killed Nizar Rayan, a senior Hamas leader, and his family, including two girls, aged seven and 10.
A dozen neighboring houses were destroyed or damaged in the explosion which killed 12 people.
The powerful explosion hurled Rayan’s decapitated body out into the street, according to witnesses.
In the minutes following the strike, dozens of people rushed to the scene, pulling bodies from the rubble including those of the two girls.
Rayan, 51, is the most senior Hamas leader killed since Israel unleashed its massive bombardment on Saturday.
Israeli aircraft destroyed earlier the building of the Palestinian Legislative Council, parliament, and the buildings of the education and justice ministries.
Five people, including a women, were killed in strikes on the southern city of Rafah.
At least 414 people have been killed and more than 2,070 wounded since Israel unleashed its military juggernaut on the coastal enclave of 1.6 million people.
In New York, the UN Security Council, meeting for emergency consultations, rejected an Arab request for a legally binding resolution that would condemn Israel and halt its attacks.
"This resolution as currently circulated by Libya is not balanced and therefore, as currently drafted, it is not acceptable to the US," said US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.
Washington, Israel’s closest ally, has regularly vetoed Security Council resolutions seen as too critical of Israel.
"We will study the text carefully but…any resolution will need to reflect the responsibilities of all parties," said Britain’s UN Ambassador John Sawers.
"There is no mention so far of the rocket attacks that have triggered the Israeli offensive."
The draft "strongly condemns all military attacks and the excessive, disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force by Israel, the occupying power, which have led to the death and injury of scores of innocent Palestinian civilians, including women and children."
It calls for "an immediate ceasefire and for its full respect by both sides."
The draft also calls "for the immediate and sustained opening of the border crossings of the Gaza Strip," and the resumption of humanitarian aid deliveries to its population.
An Arab delegation led by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal is expected to visit the UN headquarters to press for an immediate ceasefire.
Sudan’s UN ambassador Abdalmahmud Abdalhaleem Mohamad said a Security Council meeting with the Arab delegation could be held Sunday or Monday.
(IslamOnline.net and news agencies)