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By Sonja Pace
30 December 2008
Israeli aerial attacks and bombardments of the Gaza Strip continued Tuesday for the fourth day in a row. At least 350 Palestinians have been killed in the military offensive thus far, including at least 60 civilians. Three Israelis have been killed in rocket attacks by Palestinian militants.
|Israeli tanks positioned near the border with Gaza, 30 Dec 2008|
Another day of air strikes, bombing runs and rocket attacks for Gaza and nearby areas of Israel.
Loudspeaker warnings, people rushing to take cover and then... an explosion. These have become familiar sounds here in Sderot.
Uri Reznik, a spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry says dozens of Hamas-fired rockets and mortars have hit Sderot in the past several days in what has become a grim reality.
"You will see people going about their lives. But, if you will notice every few meters in this town there are cement blocks, which are designated as secure points. Whenever there is an alarm of an imminent rocket attack, people urgently have 15 seconds to get to one of these shelters."
Some residents have left the town to stay with relatives to escape the rockets. Others remain going about their daily routine, all the while listening for the next alert.
The rockets are fired by Palestinian militants from inside Gaza, just kilometers away are inaccurate, but some still hit their targets.
Several houses on nearby Sinai Street can attest to that. People there pointed out one house they said took a direct hit on Tuesday. There were no reports of casualties from that attack.
|A house in the southern Israeli town of Sderot that took a direct hit from a Palestinian rocket, 30 Dec 2008|
Leaving Sderot and driving closer to Gaza can be difficult as most of the areas along the border have been declared a "closed military zone" by the Israelis.
Not far in the distance lies Gaza city, its skyline clearly visible. The occasional Israeli warplane swoops overhead, and here and there are plumes of smoke.
Troops, tanks and armored personnel carriers have been positioned around Gaza, lending credence to promises of further military action to come, including a possible ground assault.
Israeli officials vow there'll be no let-up to the offensive until the militants' ability to fire rockets into Israel has been dealt with.
Those words were echoed in Sderot by Transport Minister and former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz.
"We are not going to discuss with the media what kind of military activity we should take," he said. "I believe that all options are on the table and we have to achieve our goal."
Israeli warplanes carried out air strikes over Gaza again on Tuesday for the fourth day in a row. Israel says it is targeting the infrastructure of Hamas, the militant Islamic group that controls the Gaza Strip. But Gaza is a very densely populated strip of land and while Israel may be targeting the militants, its attacks have also killed dozens of Palestinian civilians.
And despite relentless air attacks and rising casualty figures, the rocket attacks from inside Gaza continued.