Hamas Says Threats of More Airstrikes Embolden Gaza

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s vow to keep striking Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip prompted Hamas leaders to declare they’re not close to giving up.

Israel has “resorted to threats of assassination and other actions designed to scare us, but the will of our people will not be broken,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said yesterday in a statement distributed to reporters in Gaza.

Netanyahu said at his weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem that any target connected to Hamas or other militant groups in Gaza will be considered a target, warning that residents near those sites should “immediately evacuate.” Israel’s air force underlined that message by striking a car that carried Mohammed al-Oul, a senior Hamas official who handled the group’s finances.

At least 15 Palestinians were killed yesterday, bringing the death toll from seven weeks of hostilities to more than 2,100, according to Gaza Health Ministry official Ashraf al-Qedra. Sixty-eight on the Israeli side, all but four of them soldiers, have also died since Israel embarked on its offensive with the declared aim of squelching rocket fire.

Israel will “continue pounding Hamas, at this point from the air,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said at the cabinet meeting. “We aren’t going to stop there, and have a variety of options to inflict damage on Hamas.”

Leaders Killed

Stakes rose last week when Israeli air strikes killed three senior Hamas military leaders and the wife, a son and a daughter of the group’s top military commander, Mohammed Deif.

Israel suspended its ground war on Aug. 5 under a short-lived truce. Israeli ministers authorized the call-up of 10,000 reserve troops last week.

Israeli aircraft toppled a Gaza apartment building Aug. 23 that the military said was a Hamas command center. The building had been emptied after the military warned it would be attacked. The military also said schools, hospitals and cemeteries in Gaza have been used throughout the conflict as launching pads for more than 400 rockets.

Israel’s benchmark TA-25 Index, which lost 0.7 percent last week, lost O.5 percent in Tel Aviv trading.

Israel, like the U.S. and European Union, considers Hamas a terrorist organization. About 4,000 rockets have been fired at Israel over the past seven weeks, and the Israeli military has carried out more than 5,000 strikes on Gaza, the army said. The air force struck about 45 targets by late afternoon yesterday, and militants barraged Israel with more than 90 rockets and mortars, the army said.

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