Israel has renewed its aerial assault in northern Gaza, killing a Hamas fighter and wounding three, Hamas and hospital officials said.
After the worst day of clashes in Gaza since it withdrew last summer, t
he Israeli military said that on Friday its aircraft fired at four armed Palestinians.
Nearly 40 Palestinians have been killed since the offensive began last week, the military’s chief said.
"The terrorists have paid a heavy price so far," Lieutenant General Dan Halutz said in a military briefing broadcast on Israel Radio.
Israel started its offensive on June 28 to force fighters in Gaza to free Corporal Gilad Shalit, captured on June 25 by Palestinian fighters. There was still no word on the fate of the soldier.
Dozens of Palestinian casualties including women crowded the emergency rooms and corridors of Gaza hospitals, already suffering from shortages of medical supplies because of an Israeli closure of the territory after the soldier’s capture.
" [The offensive was] a desperate effort to undermine the Palestinian government under the pretext of a search for the missing soldier"
Palestinian prime minister
After touring Gaza’s main hospital on Thursday evening, Ismail Haniya, the Palestinian prime minister called for international intervention to stop the Israeli offensive, which he called a "crime against humanity".
Haniya said the offensive was "a desperate effort to undermine the Palestinian government under the pretext of a search for the missing soldier".
Said Siyam, Palestinian Interior minister, issued the Palestinian government’s first call to arms since the Israeli invasion.
He urged the security forces to fulfill their "religious and moral duty to stand up to this aggression and cowardly Zionist invasion."