Fighting rages in Gaza as toll nears 1,000 | world | Hindustan Times
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Fighting rages in Gaza as toll nears 1,000

world Updated: Jan 14, 2009 08:55 IST

Israel's army fought street battles with Hamas fighters in Gaza's main city and bombarded the southern border from the air as the death toll from its war on Hamas neared the 1,000 mark.

"This is the 18th day of the Israeli aggression against our people, which is becoming more ferocious each day as the number of victims rises," Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said yesterday as terrified Gaza residents fled for their lives.

"Israel is keeping up this aggression to wipe out our people over there," added Abbas, speaking from his base in the West Bank.

Israeli special forces backed by tanks and air strikes barrelled their way ever deeper into Gaza's City on Tuesday, advancing several hundred metres into several neighbourhoods in the south, witnesses said. The thud of tank shells and the crackle of gunfire echoed through much of the day.

Although there were no reports of air strikes in the evening, residents reported extensive gunbattles in Zeitun neighbourhood and Jabaliya refugee camp on the city outskirts, where Apache helicopter gunships were also in action.

Palestinian medical sources said around 70 people were killed on Tuesday, bringing the overall toll to around 975 Palestinians, with a further 4,400 wounded.

Ten Israeli soldiers and three civilians have been killed in combat or by rocket attacks since December 27, when the Jewish state began its deadliest ever offensive on Gaza, ruled by the Islamist Hamas movement since mid-2007.

Israel also carried out a wave of bombing raids on the border town of Rafah, sending hundreds of people fleeing onto the streets.