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462 Palestinians killed, 2300 wounded in 8 days
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A total of 462 Palestinians were killed and more than 2300 others injured during the past eight days in the ongoing Israeli military offensive on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, a senior Palestinian official said on Saturday.

Mo'aweya Hassanein, chief of emergency and ambulance services in the Palestinian health ministry, told reporters that the death tolls include 76 children and 38 women, and among the injured, 600 of them are in critical conditions.

Hassanein announced the rising death toll after Israeli war fighters and tanks intensified on Saturday evening its airstrikes on different Hamas targets, killing at least 20 Palestinians and wounding at least 53 others.

Talking about the strikes on Saturday evening, Hassanein noted in details that 14 were killed in tanks shelling on a mosque in northern Gaza Strip, 4 were killed in an airstrike on Gaza-Egypt's border and the other two were killed in northern Gaza City.

Witnesses confirmed that Israeli tanks fired two shells at Ibrahim al-Maqadma Mosque, in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beith Lahia at the time of the Moslems' evening prayers.

They said that dozens of prayers were inside and outside the mosque when it was bombarded by two Israeli tanks shells, adding that at least 14 prayers were killed and around 50 wounded.

The Israeli army stations dozens of tanks on the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, waiting for instructions to carry out a large-scale ground operation into the strip.

Palestinian residents in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah also confirmed that Israeli F16 warplanes struck the borderline between Gaza Strip and Egypt to destroy underground tunnels used for smuggling from Egypt into Gaza.

They said that four Palestinians were killed and three were injured in the air strike on the borderline between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.

In Gaza City, witnesses said that Israeli F16 warplanes struck a house at Nasser neighborhood in northern Gaza City, killing at least two civilians, one of them is a 14-year-old child.

Saturday is the 8th day of an ongoing, unprecedented and intensive air offensive as Israeli warplanes hadn't stopped its warplanes' strikes on hundreds of targets all over the Gaza Strip. Airstrikes were round the clock.

Meanwhile, Hamas armed wing al-Qassam Brigades said in separate leaflets sent to reporters that its militants fired dozens of long- range Russian-made and homemade rockets at southern Israeli towns of Ashdod and Ashkelon.

Israeli reports said that several rockets hit several Israeli towns, causing severe damages to several buildings, but no casualties among the Israelis were reported.

(Xinhua News Agency January 4, 2008)

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