Israeli forces spilt Gaza Strip as Palestinian death toll over 510
Israeli soldiers and tanks split the Gaza Strip and ringed its main city on Sunday in an offensive against Hamas that has killed over 500 Palestinians. On its part, Hamas kept up rocket attacks against southern Israel.
"It's a very very interesting, demanding, tough first 24 hours right now, and we are committed to follow through to continue as long as needed to achieve our objectives," Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said as he met Tony Blair, the envoy of powers sponsoring Middle East peace talks.
At least 42 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed on Sunday as Israeli shells slammed into houses and Gaza's main shopping district, medical sources said. Two children were dismembered by another blast from a tank, medical workers said, according to Reuters.
The head of emergency services in the Gaza Strip told Al Jazeera television that three Palestinian rescue workers were killed by Israeli fire on Sunday, raising to seven the total number of medical staff who have died in nine days of bloodshed.
The total Palestinian death toll tallied by Gaza medical officials in Israel's "Operation Cast Lead" rose to 512. A U.N. agency said at least a quarter of the dead were civilians.
Israeli officials said the operation could last many days.
The Israeli military said aircraft attacked dozens of targets, including smuggling tunnels, weapons caches and mortar squads. Dozens of Hamas fighters were hit, it adde.