Israel Markets Gaza Offensive

Marketing its planned offensive into the Gaza Strip, Israel has launched a diplomatic campaign to create an international umbrella of support for a large-scale operation into the besieged strip, reported Haaretz on Monday, December 22.

"(Israel) will not hesitate to react militarily if necessary," Israel’s UN ambassador Gabriela Shalev said in a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has instructed envoys to promote the Gaza blitz among UN Security Council member-states and European countries.

Livni, who hopes to form the government after the February 10 snap election, also plans phone calls with her US, French, German and British counterparts and the UN chief to promote the offensive.

Israeli leaders on Sunday vowed to do what it takes to oust the ruling Hamas movement from the strip.

A two-year Palestinian child was injured Sunday in an Israeli air strike in Gaza overnight.

Medics said that three Palestinian fighters were also wounded in the raid.

Palestinians also fired 19 rockets and 3 mortar shells into the Negev Sunday.

Violence around the besieged Gaza has steadily escalated since the expiry of a six-month truce on Friday.

Israel killed 22 Palestinians in 195 raids since the Egyptian-brokered truce came into effect.

Nearly 66 Palestinians were injured in the Israeli attacks.

Palestinian factions refused to renew the truce until Israel lifts its chocking siege on the seaside strip.

Egypt Warns

Egypt, which has been mediating a truce in Gaza, warned Israel against launching a major attack into Gaza.

"We say such a move would have devastating consequences, devastating humanitarian consequences," Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki told The Jerusalem Post.

"This is something we cannot accept or condone under any terms."

Israel has launched a number of massive offensives on the densely populated territory, leaving heavy casualties and creating a major humanitarian crisis.

A five-day onslaught in March killed at least 123 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and wounded more than 350 others.

A 2006 Israel offensive to free captured soldier Gilad Shailt left more than 400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, dead but failed to free Shilat.
( and news agencies)

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