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Hamas calls for ‘day of wrath’

Israeli planes pounded militant targets including a mosque in Gaza as Hamas ordered a “day of wrath” against Israel over the killing of a senior leader.

world Updated: Jan 03, 2009 00:02 IST

Israeli planes pounded militant targets including a mosque in Gaza on Friday as Hamas ordered a “day of wrath” against Israel over the killing of a senior leader.

Thousands of Israeli security personnel were on alert after Hamas called for “massive marches” following the main weekly Muslim prayers, starting off from the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem and from all mosques in the West Bank.

The army also locked down the West Bank for 48 hours, with movement in and out of the territory prohibited except for emergencies.

Hamas called a “day of wrath” after an Israeli air strike killed Nizar Rayan, a firebrand hardliner, and several of his wives and children. At least 420 Palestinians have now been killed in Israel’s seven-day-old blitz. Rayan is the most senior figure killed by Israel since Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi in 2004.

With tanks and troops massed for a threatened ground offensive around Gaza and no ceasefire in sight, the army allowed foreigners to leave the battered enclave.

“The (border) crossing was specially reopened to allow foreign nationals to leave the Gaza Strip,” an army spokesman said, adding that more than 400 people were expected to cross.

The Israeli military pounded the densely populated territory for a seventh day, carrying out some 20 strikes overnight, the army said.

Among the targets was a mosque in the northern town of Jabaliya that the military said was a “terror hub.”