By Guardian Reporter and Agencies
The Opposition Civic United Front (CUF) has condemned Israel`s attacks on the Gaza Strip, describing the air and ground offensive as a “crime against humanity.“
In a strongly-worded statement signed by CUF national chairman Prof Ibrahim Lipumba, the party said the ongoing Israeli attacks on Gaza were a manifestation of 41 years of sustained oppression of a military heavyweight against the defenceless people of Palestine.
“CUF is of the view that the ongoing attacks are part of a sustained and brutal military offensive by Israel, which has lasted for over 41 years since Israel occupied some Arab territories, including Palestine, in 1967,“ read the statement in part.
The CUF said there was no justification whatsoever for Israel on the attacks, which so far has claimed at least 500 lives and injured over 2,800 innocent Palestinians.
The party called upon the international community to intervene and end the crisis and warned the United States and European Union to stop the brutal attacks against the Palestinian people.
It said that the U.S and EU should apply their powers to tell Israel, which currently they are supporting, to stop the offensive and help in resolving the humanitarian crisis that thousands of Palestinians face.
Last week, President Jakaya Kikwete issued a statement that he channelled through Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation ministry, in which he condemned in strongest terms Israel attacks on Palestine.
And on Friday last week, Muslims took part in a peaceful demonstration organised by the Supreme Council of Islamic Institutions and Organisations in Dar es Salaam to condemn Israeli attacks in Gaza.
Meanwhile, Israeli tanks, planes and ground forces pounded Gaza yesterday and the defence minister Ehud Barak said the offensive against Hamas militants in the Palestinian enclave would go on until Israel was safe.
International efforts to secure a ceasefire moved ahead with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Middle East special envoy Tony Blair visiting the region, but they seemed able to offer little beyond words.
The death toll in besieged Gaza yesterday rose to at least 530 people. Victims included three Palestinian children and their mother when a tank shell hit their home in Gaza City and seven members of another family were killed in a refugee camp.
The Israeli army said “many dozens“ of Islamist fighters had been killed since ground troops went in on Saturday in a stated attempt to end rocket fire by Hamas into southern Israel.
“Hamas has so far sustained a very heavy blow from us, but we have yet to achieve our objective and therefore, the operation continues,“ Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said.
A Hamas official said a delegation from the Islamist group would head for talks in Egypt, which has also opened contacts to achieve a ceasefire. But senior Hamas political leader Mahmoud Zahar urged Hamas forces to fight on “in the name of God“.
“They legalised for us knocking down their synagogues when they hit our mosques, they legalised for us knocking down their schools when they hit our schools,“ he said in a speech broadcast in Gaza.
Gunbattles intensified in eastern Gaza City and in the north of the strip on Monday. Militants fired mortars and grenades and detonated mines, and claimed to have hit a troop carrier.
They were also trying to lure Israeli soldiers into built-up areas, witnesses said.
A military spokeswoman said the air force bombed more than 30 targets, including homes of Hamas members used as weapons depots, tunnels and a suspected anti-aircraft rocket launcher.
Israel launched its offensive with an air blitz on Dec. 27 to curtail the rocket attacks from Hamas-ruled Gaza before an Israeli national election next month.
Four Israelis have been killed by salvoes fired into Israel since the offensive began. An Israeli soldier was killed in fighting on Sunday and 48 have been wounded since the invasion.
Israel`s advances into Gaza have carved the 40-km long coastal territory, home to 1.5 million people, into two zones and forces have surrounded its largest urban area, Gaza City.