Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, described the Israeli large scale military offensive in the Gaza Strip as a war crime and as an attack on infrastructure and civilian targets. The statements of Abbas came while hundreds of residents fled their homes in Rafah and Khan Younis after the Israeli tanks and artillery was positioned near their areas after advancing their overnight, and at dawn.

As Israel kicked off its “Summer Rains” offensive, the Israeli air-force attacked civilian infrastructure and shelled a power-plant that provides more than half of the Gaza Strip with electricity.  

Abbas said the operation is an act of collective punishment against the Palestinian residents, but also added that the Palestinian Authority is doing all it can to convince the fighters to release the abducted soldier.

Hundreds of residents were seen leaving the refugee camp and other parts of northern Gaza for fear that the Israeli army will widen its ground attack.

Meanwhile, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee said that it will file an official  complaint to the United Nations Security Council demanding Israel be pressed to stop its offensive. President Aides will also ask US President George W. Bush and other leaders to convince Israel to call its attack off.

Nabil Abu Rodina, presidency spokesperson, said that the Israel attack came after the Palestinians arrived a deal on national unity document.

“There are Arab and Palestinian efforts, negotiations that continued until midnight last night.  Then we were surprised after midnight by a sudden Israeli escalation — the Israeli forces attacked bridges, the power plant, and civilian areas.  This Israeli attack came after the Palestinians reached an agreement on the national unity document” Abu Rodina stated, “Unfortunately, just as we had reached an agreement, Israel ignored these efforts and commenced a massive attack.  The attack is ongoing – Israel is trying to impose a new reality which will not lead to peace or any positive result”.
Also, Abu Robenia added that Israel should stop this escalation, and return to the negotiating table, “otherwise they will simply complicate matters”.

Palestinian government spokesperson Ghazi Hamed said the Israeli military invasion into Gaza is an unjustified military escalation that has serious implications.

Israeli military commanders in Gaza said the operation was launched to restore what was described as “the army’s confidence” after the blow it had suffered on Sunday, when Palestinian fighters attack a military post post near Gaza, killing two soldiers and abducting a third.