Gaza Toll Rises Above 350 in Third Day

Israel's assaults have not stopped Hamas' ability to mount rocket attacks.

ByABC News
December 29, 2008, 6:08 AM

JERUSALEM, Dec. 29, 2008 — -- Israel's blistering attack against Hamas leaders and institutions in the Gaza Strip intensified Monday, as airstrikes continued along the Israeli-Palestinian border. The Israeli government escalated its rhetoric, when Defense Minister Ehud Barak called for an "all-out war" to "the bitter end against Hamas and its branches."

Three days of continual Israeli air strikes against targets throughout Gaza have brought the Palestinian death toll above 350, according to Palestinian officials, with more than 1,400 injured.

The United Nations reports at least 50 of those killed were civilians, but the director of a Gaza Strip hospital told ABC News the civilian death count stands at more then 120, including 21 children.

The lame duck Bush administration today again spoke out on the Israeli assault of Hamas targets throughout Gaza, condemning Hamas for the escalation of violence in the past three days.

"In order for the violence to stop, Hamas must stop firing rockets into Israel and agree to respect a sustainable and durable cease-fire," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said in a statement this morning. "That is the objective to which all parties need to be working. That is what the United States is working towards."

But so far, the strikes have only slowed but not stopped the weeks-long string of Hamas' rocket attacks inside Israel that triggered the attacks.

In the southern city of Ashdod, 18 miles from Gaza, a rocket fired by Gaza militants killed two Israelis Monday, including a woman who was taking shelter in a bus station. The attack brought the number of Israelis killed by Palestinian rockets to four since Saturday.

Throughout southern Israel, thousands panicked and were sent into shelters by the roaring sound of the code red alert. In Sderot today, the Kol family ran for cover outside their home when an incoming rocket was spotted.

Across the border in Gaza, as the panic persists, the cost of war for the Baloshe family has already been unbearable. Sunday night an Israeli strike caused a wall to collapse in their home, crushing five of their daughters to death.

"I wasn't firing rockets," Anwar Baloshe, a Palestinian father, said. "I was just asleep with my children."

Baloshe carried his 4-year-old daughter, Muna, back to the site of her death Monday. As she was buried, the sound of an Israeli jet roared above.