Israel hits Palestinian ministry
Updated: 2006-06-30 08:38 Israeli warplanes struck the Palestinian Interior
Ministry early Friday, setting it ablaze as Arab leaders tried to forge a deal
that would halt the Israeli offensive and free a 19-year-old soldier held by
gunmen allied with the ruling Islamic Hamas.
The bombing was one of more than a dozen across the Gaza
Strip after midnight, though Israel called off a planned ground invasion of
northern Gaza on Thursday in order to give diplomacy another chance.
An Israeli soldier reloads a mobile artillery
piece after firing towards the Gaza Strip at a position near Kibbutz Nahal
Oz, just outside the northern Gaza Strip,Thursday June 29, 2006.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said militants agreed to a conditional
release of the kidnapped soldier but that Israel had yet to accept their terms,
which he did not specify. Israel said it was not familiar with any such offer.
No one was hurt in the strike on the Interior Ministry in downtown Gaza City.
The Israeli military said the ministry office, controlled by Hamas, was "a
meeting place to plan and direct terror activity." The Interior Ministry is
nominally in charge of Palestinian security forces, though moderate Palestinian
President Mahmoud Abbas removed most of its authority.
Israeli warplanes also hit a Fatah office and a Hamas facility in Gaza City
as well as roads and open fields. During the day, aircraft and artillery pounded
sites across the coastal strip, including suspected weapons factories, an
electrical transformer and militant training camps.
Palestinian hospital officials said a 5-year-old girl was wounded in a
northern airstrike early Friday, the first casualty in more than two days of
military action that began with a ground invasion of southern Gaza. Doctors said
her condition was not serious.
On Gaza's southern border, hundreds of Palestinian and
Egyptian police formed human cordons to block Palestinians trying to escape into
Egypt after militants blasted a hole in a cement wall near the crossing.