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Israel Arrests Dozens of Hamas Lawmakers and Ministers as Assault on Gaza Widens
Israel has arrested dozens of lawmakers and ministers from the ruling Palestinian party Hamas as it continues its military assault to recover a captured soldier. Nearly half of the Gaza Strip remains without power following Israeli air strikes that knocked out a main power station. We go to Gaza to get a report from Chris McGreal of the London Guardian.
Israel has arrested dozens of lawmakers and ministers from the ruling Palestinian party Hamas as it continues its operation to recover a captured soldier. The soldier, Corporal Gilad Shalit, was captured Sunday in a Palestinian operation on an Israeli military outpost near Gaza. The Israeli government says it holds Hamas directly responsible for Shalit's life. It has rejected his captor's demands for the release of all Palestinian females and Palestinians below the age of eighteen in Israeli prisons. An Israeli cabinet minister said Syria-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal is a target for assassination. And in a warning to the Syrian government, Israel sent warplanes to fly over a home belonging to Syrian President Bashar Assad. A Hamas official said Israel is carrying out an "open war against the Palestinian government and people," and vowed retaliation.
Meanwhile, nearly half of the Gaza Strip remains without power following Israeli air strikes that knocked out a main power station. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said the attack on Gaza's infrastructure amounts to "collective punishment and a crime against humanity." Israeli warplanes have dropped leaflets on the village of Beit Hanun and parts of Gaza warning residents the army will begin striking populated areas. IDF officials said they expect thousands of people to begin fleeing their homes as early as today. In Washington, the Bush administration urged Israel to use restraint but refused to criticize the current siege. Meanwhile, the IDF announced it has recovered the body of eighteen-year old West Bank settler Eliyahu Asheri. Asheri's captors had threatened to take his life unless Israel halted its reinvasion of the Gaza Strip.
* Chris McGreal, reporter for the Guardian of London. He joins us on the line from Gaza.