Israeli Gaza offensive so far 'first of several stages': Olmert

JERUSALEM, Dec 30, 2008 (AFP) - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Tuesday that the bombardment of Hamas targets in Gaza so far was "the first of several stages" approved by the Jewish state's security cabinet.

The bodies of Lama (R) and Haya Hamdan lie at a mortuary after they were killed in an Israeli air strike in Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip on Dec. 30, 2008 (AFP PHOTO)

The blitz that began on Saturday was "the first of several stages approved by the security cabinet," Olmert told President Shimon Peres in a briefing, according to the latter's spokeswoman Ayelet Frisch.

Israel unleashed its deadly bombardment of Hamas targets in Gaza on Saturday in retaliation for persistent rocket fire from the territory.

The blitz has killed at least 360 Palestinians and wounded 1,690, according to medics. At least 57 of the dead are civilians, according to the UN.

Gaza militants have fired more than 250 rockets into Israel since Saturday, killing four people -- three civilians and one soldier -- and wounding several dozen others, according to medics.

Source: AFP

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