Residents fear large-scale Israeli war on Gaza

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Emergency services extinguish the burned out car of Qassam top leader Ahmed Jabari after an Israeli air strike in Gaza City, Nov. 14, 2012. Hamas says the head of its military wing Ahmed al-Jaabari has been killed in an Israeli air strike. Israel said it had targeted Ahmed al-Jaabari because of what it called his terrorist activity. Seven Palestinians were killed following a series of Israel's airstrikes on Gaza city, and more than 40 others wounded, government's emergency services in the Gaza Strip said. (Xinhua/Wissam Nassar) 

The Gaza Strip has been under fire on Thursday, one day after Islamic Hamas movement's armed wing commander Ahmed al-Jaabari was killed in an Israeli air raid on his car in Gaza city.

Ashraf al-Qedra, spokesman of the Hamas-run ministry of health, told reporters Thursday afternoon that since Wednesday afternoon, 13 Palestinians were killed and 145 injured.

Hamas said in a press statement emailed to reporters that seven of the 13 killed are civilians, including a pregnant woman, an 11- month-old child, a 3-year-old girl, a 65-year-old man and six Hamas militants (including al-Jaabari.)

Hamas armed wing al-Qassam Brigades said in a separate leaflets emailed to reporters that more than 250 short and long range rockets were fired on Israel, the longest one on Wednesday night reached the outskirts of Tel Aviv; meanwhile, Hamas said Israeli warplanes carried out more than 90 airstrikes on various targets and militants all over the Gaza Strip.

The atmosphere in the Gaza Strip on Thursday is similar to the early 2009, when Israel waged a three-week war on the Gaza Strip and called it "Operation Cast Lead," where 1,440 Palestinians were killed and 50,000 injured.

Across the coastal enclave on Thursday, shops are closed. Schools and university students were refrained from going to classes. Bakeries and grocer stores were exceptionally opened, with citizens standing in long lines.

Sounds of Israeli bombings can be easily heard in the enclave, as well as the whistles of rockets launched from the Gaza Strip on Israeli towns and cities. Also, ambulances are seen on the main streets with very little traffic, as most of the local residents prefer to stay in doors.

The residents express deep concerns and anxiety that a large war will be again waged on the Gaza Strip, and they are also afraid of a severe humanitarian crisis, mainly shortage of basic needs of food, medicine, fuels, water and electricity.

Zakareya al-Bana, a 27-year-old Palestinian resident in Gaza city, stood in a long line outside al-Khalafawi Bakery Shop. He said he has been queuing for over two hours for four packages of bread -- in each package there are 40 pieces of bread.

He said he brought the bread for 25 family members, adding that his family used to bake bread but because of a shortage of flours, he had to buy some instead.

"We are afraid of this war, but I don't blame Hamas at all. I blame Israel because it is the one who started by provoking Hamas and killing al-Jaabari," said al-Banna.

On Thursday, thousands of Hamas supporters and militants gathered at Shiffa Hospital in Gaza city. They carried two shrouds, one for al-Jaabari and the other for his body guard, amid angry anti-Israel chanting. They walked to al-Jaabari's house in eastern Gaza city neighborhood of Sheja'eya to let his wife and children see him for the last time.

Before al-Jaabari's was carried to al-Omari Mosque in Gaza city 's downtown for noon prayers, militants fired intensively into the air and mourners chanted slogans that called for revenge and keeping rockets attacks going on.

Son of Ahmed al-Jaabari, 20-year-old Mu'az al-Jaabari told reporters "We will not stop resistance, and killing my father will not end al-Qassam Brigades. We will keep holding rifles. We will continue and follow my father with his message."

He said that he had not seen his father for a long time, adding "the last time I saw him was two weeks ago after he came back from the pilgrimage in Mecca and today I'm here saying good-bye Dad."

Hamada Abu Nasser, one of the Hamas mourners, said "no one will be able to destroy Hamas movement. In the past the Zionists killed a spiritual leader, but many other senior leaders and Hamas are not dead. I believe that every time the Zionists kills a leader, Hamas gets more powerful."

Meanwhile, Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas lawmaker and a senior leader in Gaza, participated in the funeral. He told reporters " our people will continue the war against the occupation and punishing it for carrying crimes against our leaders."

"This war will go step by step against the Zionist until achieving its goals," Barhoum said, adding that "as the occupation (Israel) calls the operation "Defense Pillar," we also call our operation "Stones from Heaven," said al-Masri.

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