Israeli air strike opens new cycle of violence

Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar, survived an Israeli air strike yesterday, emerging wounded from his flattened house in the Gaza City; his son and bodyguard weren’t so lucky.

The bomb attack by an Israeli F16 fighter was apparently retaliation for the suicide bombings in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv that killed 15 people a day earlier.

Al Zahar’s wife was reported to be among the 20 or so people injured.

In response, Hamas threatened to attack Israeli “civilian houses” and buildings.

The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing, said in a statement “The targeting of civilian houses is a violation of all red lines.

“Therefore the Zionist enemy will have to shoulder responsibility for the targeting by us of houses and Zionist buildings everywhere in occupied Palestine.

“We reiterate that in the past we have avoided targeting houses and Zionist residential buildings but the enemy was the one to initiate it and the enemy has to harvest what it has sown.”

Thousands of Hamas supporters took to the streets of Gaza City chanting “Death to Israel” following the air strike.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has cut short his visit to India due to the escalation of terror attacks.

Mr Sharon said the peace process was damaged but reparable and would make every effort to bring an end to terror.

Al Zahar said the air strike opened a new cycle of violence; Israel had to bear responsibility for the consequences.

“These crimes are escalating the process of resistance and we are sure they are not going to achieve their goals and we are going to achieve liberation,” he said.

Separately, Ahmed Qureia, the speaker of the Palestinian parliament, has accepted the nomination as PM for the Palestinian Authority.

Moderate Qureia has strongly condemned the suicide bombings and expressed “regrets and pain for the innocent lives lost as a result of violence and counter-violence.”