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Despite poor weather, airstrikes continue; 398 killed, 2,000 injured

Dec. 31, 2008 10:48 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 31, 2008 10:48 A.M.)
Gaza - Ma'an - Gaza's Hospitals are the source of the latest dead as yesterday's wounded head to overcrowded morgues and medical supplies dwindle.

Medical sources put the number of dead at 398.

Among those who succumbed to their wounds on Wednesday were:

*Mahmoud Abu Nahl, who died in an Egyptian hospital

*Ismail Hamdan, a 10-year-old boy who was hit with a missile Tuesday along with his two sisters

*Paramedics Eyhab Al-Madhoun and Mahmoud Abu Hasira who were hit while rescuing civilians

Fresh airstrikes bring more dead

After a several-hour noontime lull Israel resumed airstrikes in the Gaza Strip Wednesday afternoon.

The lull coaxed many families out of their homes to inspect damage, find family or replenish food reserves. By four o'clock however, Israeli strikes resumed and targeted a donkey-cart in Bani Suhayla Square in Khan Younis, killing two and injuring several others.

5:30pm The strikes continued into the evening injuring several when a missile struck Abu Hanifah An-Nu'man Mosque in the Tel Al-Hawa neighborhood in western Gaza City, injuring several.

6:00pmMissiles went on to hit a private home in the An-Nusayrat Refugee Camp in central Gaza, and fired on the Zaitoun neighborhood of Gaza City.

9:00pm Later strikes hit three money changers in Gaza City, a home and tunnels in Rafah. There was no immediate word on casualties there.

11:30pm In Jabaliya Fatima Balousha was killed near her home as Israeli warplanes dropped missiles on a Mosque in the area.

11:59pm Two more dead and 60 injured as Israel bombs park near Rafah city.

Wednesday morning

Israeli shelling continued through the early hours of Wednesday morning. Israeli forces targeted 40 sites in Gaza including the interior ministry and the security buildings in Gaza City, Khan Younis and Jabaliya as well as the naval police headquarters on the coast near Khan Younis.

After the sun rose rain and overcast skies halted Israeli airstrikes on Gaza but the military did not stop its barrage of attacks against the area. Warships and artillery vehicles surrounding the Strip launched volleys of shells at the homes of Palestinians in the north and central regions.

Israeli warships targeted the Gaza port for the second time at 7:00am Wednesday, bombarding the area with shells. The sea port, usually the hub of activity for the Mediterranean community, has been abandoned as Gazans remain indoors and away from border areas.

At the Strip's eastern border with Israel tanks are lined up firing rounds on the residential areas of Tel Az-Za'atar east of Jabaliya. The bombardment killed a Palestinian doctor and injured several others from the medical crew who had rushed to rescue those injured in an earlier round of shelling in the Jabal Ar-Rayyes area.

Warplanes also dropped one-ton seismic bombs on the Rafah tunnel region. The bombs, which had not yet been used in the Gaza operation, left holes in the earth more than 30 meters deep. While no injuries have been reported, medical crews have not yet been able to reach the area.

Several areas in the northern Strip were also attacked. Israeli F-16 warplanes launched two missiles at the border areas and shells towards Bet Lahia and Bet Hanoun.

Tuesday night

Overnight Israeli artillery targeted the headquarters of the de facto government's General Secretariat of the Council for Ministers and the National Security buildings east of the Al-Bureij refugee camp in central the Gaza Strip. Fire also targeted residential areas where several homes of Hamas' Al-Qassam Brigades' leaders are located.

Mounting death toll

According to the de facto government Ministry of Health hospitals have been able to identify 320 of now more than 398 dead in Gaza. According to a statement from the ministry 15% of the dead are women and children. Of the now 1,650 injured, said the statement, almost 45% are children.

Other counts say more than 2,000 are now injured, and that 215 of the injured are in critical condition. Medical sources also said at least 42 of the dead are children.

***Updated 23:59 Bethlehem time

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