The New Year has started in the same way as the old one ended in the Middle East with air strikes on Gaza. It came within hours of both Israel and Hamas ruling out an immediate truce.
Warplanes destroyed two government buildings and the parliament was also said to have been damaged. The air raids were in retaliation for the latest rocket attacks by Palestinian militants on towns in Israel, which have left four people dead. Around 400 people, a quarter of them civilians, have been killed in six days of bombardments on Gaza. The conflict has also exacerbated a humanitarian crisis in the Strip, though Israel is allowing some aid to get through. After both sides rejected the French ceasefire proposal there seems little prospect of the conflict ending any time soon. Israel says it has not ruled out a truce, but it remains poised to launch a ground offensive. A poll shows that most Israelis support tough military action to eliminate the threat of rocket attacks.