Israeli airstrikes have continued on the Gaza Strip. Among the dead overnight, according to sources there, is a senior Hamas military commander. Earlier on Friday the dead included three young children playing in the street. The Hamas leader, exiled in Syria, issued a defiant warning to the Israeli land-forces massing on the border with the Gaza Strip.
It has been a week since Israel launched its devastating assault with the aim of ending Hamas rocket attacks on southern Israel. Since then there have been more than 700 airstrikes. Combining information from Palestinian medical sources and the Israeli military, at least 435 Palestinians have been killed, including 75 children and 21 women. 2,000 people have been wounded. A UN agency reckons a quarter of the dead were civilians. A leading Palestinian human rights group puts the figure at 40 per cent. Hamas said one of their senior military commanders, Abu Zakaria al-Jamal, was killed by Israeli ordnance. Earlier in the week another Hamas leader, Nizar Rayyan, was also killed. As well as bombs, the Israelis dropped leaflets, warning civilians to leave towns due to be targeted, including a free-phone number to reveal the whereabouts of Hamas positions. Israel’s land forces are still poised on the Gaza border. The Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, speaking from exile in Damascus, said Israel would be defeated if it were to invade.