- Title: WEST BANK: Protest in the west Bank against Israeli strikes in Gaza
- Date: 1st January 2009
- Summary: ++ MUTE++ VIEW OF THE UNION OF PALESTINIAN PROFESSIONAL DOCTORS, PROTEST IN SOLIDARITY WITH GAZA RESIDENTS AGAINST ISRAEL'S MILITARY OPERATION ON THE GAZA STRIP PEOPLE HOLDING BANNER READING 'NO FOR THE UNJUST AGGRESSION ON OUR PEOPLE IN GAZA AND YES FOR NATIONAL UNITY' MORE OF PROTEST
- Embargoed: 16th January 2009 12:00
- Topics: International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVA7W879BVIHO5887BGLLEQLBEFU
- Story Text: Palestinians in the West Bank protest against Israeli operation in the Gaza strip, black flags on the top of Nativity church in Bethlehem.
Hundreds of Palestinian protesters took to the street on Wednesday (December 31, 2008), in protest against Israels aggression on the Gaza strip and killing of hundreds of residents.
Ghassan Dassat, member of the Palestinian lawyers union in Jenin said that the members of the lawyers union consider Israel's crime more than a war crime.
"We in the Palestinians lawyer union see in this crime more than a war crime and reaches to a liquidation level of ethnic cleansing," said Dassat.
"Yesterday, the state of occupation have set a new world record in the cold blood killing race, that no one ever recorded before. more than thousands of injured and dead in less than one hour. Body parts under rubble waiting to be be lifted from underneath. And the blood of school children was mixed with their text books print," Dassat added during the protest.
Meanwhile in the town of Bethlehem, where christian revert to as the birth place of Jesus Christ, black flags hung over church bells a sign of solidarity with the Victims of Gaza residents.
Manger square in front of the church of nativity looked empty while some tourist where visiting during the Christmas season.
Earlier on Wenesday Israel rebuffed French calls for a 48-hour humanitarian truce in the Gaza Strip and stepped up preparations for a possible ground offensive after Hamas's long-range rockets hit a major population centre.
Israeli officials made clear, however, that Israel had not rejected the plan outright and was open to amendments.
"(The French) proposal contained no guarantees of any kind that Hamas will stop the rockets and smuggling," Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said.
"It is not realistic to expect Israel to cease fire unilaterally with no mechanism to enforce the cessation of shooting and terror from Hamas," he said on the fifth day of air strikes.
Diplomats said the deadliest conflict in the Gaza Strip in four decades appeared close to a tipping point after four days of cross-border fire killed 385 Palestinians and four Israelis.
At least two rockets fired from the Gaza strip hit Beersheba, the city Israel calls the capital of the Negev, its southern region. One struck a school that was empty. Municipal authorities had cancelled classes after rockets landed in Beersheba on Tuesday evening for the first time.
Israeli aircraft carried out two strikes in the Gaza Strip early on Wednesday, targeting smuggling tunnels on the Gaza-Egypt frontier and Hamas government offices in Gaza City, an Israeli military spokesman said.
Palestinian medical officials said one person, a paramedic, was killed.
Israel also has amassed armoured forces on its border with the Gaza Strip in preparation for a possible ground offensive. But rain over the past few days and fresh showers on Wednesday could delay any push soon by tanks into the territory and also limit air operations.
Medical officials put Palestinian casualties at 385 dead and more than 800 wounded since the Israeli offensive began on Saturday. A United Nations agency said at least 62 of the dead were civilians. Four Israelis have been killed.
The current violence erupted after a six-month ceasefire brokered by Egypt expired on Dec. 19 and Hamas intensified rocket attacks from the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip.
Hamas has said the onus was on Israel to stop the assaults while Israeli media quoted as saying the operation was in the first of many stages.
Israeli media reported that cabinet ministers approved the mobilisation of 2,500 army reservists, consolidating an earlier call-up of 6,500 soldiers for the garrison on the Gaza border.
France said it would host Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Thursday and an Israeli official said French President Nicolas Sarkozy might visit Jerusalem next Monday.
In Gaza, basic food supplies were running low and power cuts were affecting much of the territory. Hospitals were struggling to cope with the high number of casualties from the offensive.
Hamas seized the Gaza Strip in 2007 from rival Fatah forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas. It has balked at demands by Western powers that it recognise Israel and renounce violence.
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