A Palestinian doctor carries a wounded child at the hospital following an Israeli air strike on a house in Gaza City yesterday. The Israeli air strike killed a young girl and a woman, wounding 16 others. Photo: afp
The armed wing of Hamas yesterday warned foreign airlines against flying into Tel Aviv, threatening to step up its six-week conflict with Israel and declaring truce talks in Cairo over.
The warning came after Israeli warplanes pounded Gaza again as furious mourners buried the wife and infant son of Hamas's top military commander, baying for revenge as nine days of calm exploded into bloodshed.
Mohammed Deif, who has topped Israel's most wanted list for more than a decade, escaped the assassination attempt, Hamas said.
Israel, which had carried out five previous attempts on Deif's life, said it would have no qualms about trying again, describing him as an "arch murderer."
So far, 20 Gazans have been killed since Palestinian militants launched a barrage of rockets on southern Israel on Tuesday and F16 fighter jets carried out retaliatory air strikes, Palestinian medics say.
"We are warning international airlines and press them to stop flying into Ben Gurion airport from 6:00am Thursday," the spokesman of the Hamas armed wing, Abu Obeida, said in a televised speech.
Last month, many international airlines briefly suspended flights into Tel Aviv after a Hamas rocket struck close to the airport.
Dressed in military fatigues with his face wrapped in a red-and-white chequered headscarf, Abu Obeida said Hamas was abandoning efforts to negotiate a durable ceasefire with Israel at Egyptian-brokered talks.
Rescue workers dig out a man from the ruins of an Israeli air strike late on Tuesday night. Israeli intensified air raids on Gaza yesterday as furious mourners buried the wife and child of Hamas's top military commander, baying for revenge as nine days of calm exploded into bloodshed. Photo: Reuters
"We are calling on the Palestinian delegation to withdraw immediately from Cairo and not to return," he said in a speech broadcast on Hamas's Al-Aqsa TV channel.
"There will be no return to talks after today and any move in this direction will never achieve any result," he added.
"The enemy lost a golden chance to reach a ceasefire with limited demands, for which it will pay after today."
The bloodshed pushed to 2,047 the number of Gazans killed in six weeks of the most violent confrontation between Israel and Hamas militants since the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising (2000-2005).
Another 67 people have died on the Israeli side.
The UN says around three-quarters of the victims in Gaza are civilians. Sixty-four of the Israeli dead were soldiers.
Deif heads Hamas's armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, which vowed to open the "gates of hell" on Israel in retaliation for the killings.
The mourners, firing Kalashnikovs, buried Widad and her son Ali, who died alongside another woman and a teenager when a missile slammed into a six-storey building in Gaza City late on Tuesday. It was the first deadly air strike since August 10.
In Israel, Interior Minister Gideon Saar justified the attack, calling Deif a legitimate target.
"Mohammed Deif deserves to die just like (the late al-Qaeda leader Osama) bin Laden. He is an arch murderer and as long as we have an opportunity we will try to kill him," Saar told army radio.