IBRAHIM BARZAK and JOSEF FEDERMAN
January 10, 2009
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip ‚Äď Israeli forces pounded rocket-launching sites and smuggling tunnels in Gaza Saturday and planes dropped leaflets warning of an escalation in attacks, as Palestinian militants fired at least 10 more rockets at Israel.
Egypt hosted talks aimed at ending the violence.
Flames and smoke rose over Gaza City amid the heavy fighting. The Israeli threat to launch a “new phase” in its two-week-old offensive that has already killed more than 800 Palestinians came in defiance of international calls for a cease-fire.
“The IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) will escalate the operation in the Gaza Strip,” the leaflets said in Arabic. “The IDF is not working against the people of Gaza but against Hamas and the terrorists only. Stay safe by following our orders.”
The leaflets urged Gaza residents not to help Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza, and to stay away from its members.
Israel launched the offensive on Dec. 27 to halt years of Palestinian rocket attacks on southern Israel. A week later, ground troops moved in.