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MID:Israeli attack kills brothers as Hamas stages 'Day of Wrath'

By Mai Yaghi
03 Jan 2009 2:47 AM

GAZA CITY, Jan 2 AFP - Israeli warplanes hit Gaza targets including a mosque and a house where three young brothers were killed as Hamas supporters staged angry protests on Friday against Israel's week-old offensive.

A missile from one of 30 new Israeli raids hit a house and killed the boys, aged from seven to 10, emergency services said.

At least 430 Palestinians have been killed and 2,250 people wounded in the raids, according to Gaza officials.

The new strikes came as Israeli troops gathered on the Gaza border and thousands of Hamas faithful attended the funeral of Nizar Rayan, the most senior Hamas leadership victim of the offensive, who was killed with his four wives and 11 of his children in another Israeli raid on Thursday.

Rayan and his family were wrapped in green Hamas flags for their burials, during which Hamas vowed that it would not be bowed by the killings.

"I call on the resistance to continue pounding Jewish settlements and cities," said Sheikh Abdelrahman al-Jamal. "We will remain on the path of jihad until the end of days."

Hamas called a "Day of Wrath" against Israel, which brought thousands of protesters out onto the streets of Gaza and the occupied West Bank. Police fired teargas at rock throwing youths in Jerusalem.

Hamas has warned it could resume suicide attacks against Israel for the first time since January 2005 to avenge the death of Rayan, the most senior Islamist killed by Israel since Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi in 2004.

With a ground offensive widely expected and no ceasefire in sight, the Israeli army opened a border crossing to let an estimated 400 foreigners in Gaza leave the battered enclave.

But reporters did not go into Gaza despite a Supreme Court ruling that eight foreign media should be allowed into the territory after the foreign press group objected to the government demand to choose two of the journalists.

Seven days into the offensive, Israeli jets staged more than 30 new raids on the densely populated territory, which it said targeted rocket launching sites and Hamas buildings.

Three young brothers -- Iyad, Mohammed and Abdelsattar al-Astal -- died in a raid that appeared to target a rocket launcher near their house near the city of Khan Yunis, emergency services said.

A mosque in the northern town of Jabaliya that the military said was a "terror hub" used to stockpile weapons was also hit.

Long queues formed outside bakeries and other stores which only open during the rare hours when electricity is available. Aid agencies say fuel and food is also in short supply.

Hamas fired more than 20 rockets into Israel, but no casualties were reported.

Israel unleashed "Operation Cast Lead" on Gaza on December 27 in response to persistent rocket fire from the territory, which has been under a crippling Israeli blockade since Hamas seized control in June 2007.

Gaza militants have fired more than 360 rockets into Israel over seven days, killing four people and wounding dozens more. Some rockets have reached up to 40km inside Israeli territory, the furthest the projectiles have struck.

The Israeli offensive has sparked angry protests in the Muslim world and defied diplomatic efforts to broker a truce.

Tens of thousands took to the streets of Jakarta, thousands demonstrated in Afghanistan and Turkey, some burning Israeli flags, thousands of Muslims gathered in Sydney and hundreds of Muslims burnt Israeli flags in Indian-administered Kashmir.

In Jordan, police fired tear gas at angry protesters to prevent them from approaching the Israeli embassy in the capital Amman after weekly Muslim Friday prayers.

A leader of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party, Bulent Gedikli, said Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert "deserved a pair of shoes to be thrown at him", referring to an incident last month when an Iraqi journalist threw shoes at President George W Bush.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni reiterated that Israel was not yet ready for a truce after talks in Paris on Thursday with President Nicolas Sarkozy and other French leaders.

"The question of whether it's enough or not will be the result of our assessment on a daily basis," she said.

Peace moves were also stalled at the UN Security Council.

Olmert, Livni and Defence Minister Ehud Barak held talks well into the night and planned to pursue discussions over the weekend, Olmert's office said.

A majority of the Israeli public is supporting the Gaza offensive, with about 95 per cent of Jewish residents backing the air strikes, according to a survey published on Friday in the Maariv daily.