Livni Called Terrorist; Death Toll Rises

Smiling after signing an anti-smuggling deal with US Secretary of State Condoleezza, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was denounced by journalists as a "terrorist" and "murderer" of Palestinian children, reported the Yediot Aharonot on Saturday, January 17.

"Since when are terrorists accommodated here," one journalist asked at a press conference at the Washington Press Club on Friday.

The journalist started quoting a Human Rights report on the situation in Gaza, before asking Livni to comment on the murder of innocent civilians in Gaza.

"You let her speak here and don’t let us ask questions," the journalist yelled when he was prevented from completing his questions to Livni, before being removed from the microphone.

Another journalist compared the Israeli government to the authoritarian regime of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe.

"What, are you like Zimbabwe?" another reporter asked Livni.

Livni, however, remained cool, repeating claims that Israel was trying to avoid killing civilians during its attacks in Gaza.

At least 1200 people have been killed, including 355 children and 108 women, have been killed since Israel launched a deadly offensive in Gaza on December 27.

More than 5300 others, including 1,800 children, have been wounded.

The Israeli minister only lost temper when she was asked by an Al-Jazeera reporter that if her visit to the US was part of her election campaign.

"Nonsense," Livni replied. "we work together. Defense Minister Barak and I are doing the job. I work according to my commitments as the foreign minister."

Livni, the leader of the Kadima party, hopes to replace Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in the February 10 elections.

Gaza Tragedy

Israel continued on Saturday to pummel Gaza with new strikes on Saturday.

Six people where killed when Israeli tanks shelled a United Nations-run school in the northern town of Beit Lahiya where civilians had taken refuge from the Israeli attacks.

"This yet again illustrates the tragedy that there is no safe place in Gaza. Not even a UN installation is safe," Christopher Gunness, a spokesman for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

"There is no place to flee."

Medical workers said a woman and a child were killed when a first shell hit the school.

Witnesses said other shells struck nearby as people tried to escape and four more were killed.

About 45,000 Gazans are sheltering in UN-run schools in the enclave.

In a second attack in northwest Gaza City, three Palestinians were killed by a tank shell that landed in a residential area, medical workers said.

A two-year-old baby and three other people were killed when Israel hammered Gaza with some 50 raids.

The new deaths came one day after Israeli attacks killed at least 66 people, in one of the deadliest day of Israeli onslaughts in Gaza.

The Israeli war in Gaza has drawn worldwide protests and raised fears of a humanitarian crisis in the impoverished territory of 1.6 million people, which has been under a crippling Israeli blockade.
( and Agencies)

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