The Israeli army has launched an offensive in the Gaza Strip, killing at least nine people in a series of military air strikes and shelling attacks. It has been accused of breaking the spirit of the Annapolis peace agreement.
The Israeli authorities say that its assault is a proportionate response to Palestinian militants firing long-range rockets at an Israeli city. But critics say that there is no equivalence in the force being deployed, and elected Palestinian politicians claim that the Israeli action is strengthening rather than undermining extremism.
No casualties have been reported from the Palestinian rocket incident.
Nabil Abu Rdeneh, a spokesperson for President Mahmoud Abbas, today condemned the Israeli offensive. He said: "We consider what's going on in Gaza ... as a bloody Israeli message in which Israel shirks itself of any commitment before the arrival of President Bush to the region."
The Israeli air strikes across Gaza were supplemented by tanks hitting buildings alleged to be used by militants, but actually containing many civilians.
Among other incidents, Israeli forces shelled a house in the southern city of Khan Younis, killing one man along with his mother, sister and brother.
Israeli army spokeswoman Captain Noa Meir said militants were "intentionally using civilian areas" to fire at troops, but Palestinians say the assaults are indiscriminate.
Israeli bulldozer levelled nearby land and buildings in Khan Younis. Peace and justice activists from both 'sides' have been working together to rebuild Palestinian houses destroyed by the Israelis in Occupied and invaded territories through the internationally backed Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD).
In another incident reported by news agencies today, a 14-year-old boy was critically wounded. His limp body, a mangled foot dangling, was rushed into a hospital emergency room for treatment.