Meshaal warns of 'black destiny' for Israel
The United Nations said Gaza's utilities were barely functioning.
Israeli forces bombed the Gaza Strip from the air and sea on Saturday, killing a senior Hamas commander, as the offensive entered a second week.
Desperate residents of the Palestinian enclave sheltered in their homes, fearing that an Israeli bomb hit them.
United Nations warned about humanitaria crisis in Gaza Strip after a week-long Israeli attacks started and destroyed many buildings and systems.
Basic foodstuffs in the densely populated zone were running short and fresh water supplies were limited because of damage to the systems, humanitarian agencies said. Hospitals were struggling to cope with the casualties.
Israeli tanks and troops were massed on Gaza's borders in readiness for a ground invasion that the Jewish state's government could order unless international diplomatic efforts to arrange a ceasefire gain momentum.
Hamas leader Khalid Meshaal, who lives in Syria, warned that a "black destiny" awaits the Jewish state if it launches a ground offensive into the Gaza Strip.
But an overnight Israeli air strike killed Abu Zakaria al-Jamal, a senior commander of Hamas's armed wing, on Saturday, the Islamist group said.
"The war must end, the siege lifted"
"If you commit the stupidity of launching a ground offensive then a black destiny awaits you," Meshaal said in a pre-taped speech aired on Al-Jazeera television.
"You will soon find out that Gaza is the wrath of the God," said Meshaal.
"This battle was imposed on us and we are confident we will achieve victory because we have made our preparations.
"Our position is clear. We will not give in. Our resolve cannot be broken," he said.
"Our demand is also clear. The war must end, the siege lifted, and crossing points open without restriction."
He told the Israeli government: "You thought that the way to win the coming elections (on February 10) is via the invasion of Gaza but I tell you it is a mistake."
If Israeli troops enter Gaza "our people will fight them from street to street," said the Hamas leader, who lives in exile in Syria.
"I ask all the sons of the (Hamas) movement to mobilise... until the aggression is over and the blockade is lifted."
On Thursday, another Hamas leader, Nizar Rayyan, was killed.
At least 20 air strikes targeted Gaza on Saturday morning and naval vessels also shelled the area from the Mediterranean coast, witnesses said.
War planes hit a private Palestinian college called the American School, killing a guard. The Israeli military said the school was a hiding place for Hamas activists and a base for firing rockets.
Israel launched the offensive on Dec. 27 under the name of stopping Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli towns from Gaza.
Since then about 430 Palestinians have been killed and 2,000 wounded, at least a quarter of them civilians, according to the United Nations.
Targets have included the Islamic university, government buildings, mosques and civil police stations.
On Saturday, two people were lightly wounded when a Hamas rocket struck an 8-storey building in Ashdod and another rocket struck an empty house in Ashkelon, setting it ablaze, Israeli ambulance workers said.
Four Israelis have been killed by Hamas rockets. Long-range weapons have hit the port of Ashdod and the desert town of Beersheba, while Israeli strikes was destroying Gaza.
Nowhere to run
The plight of the 1.5 million Palestinians crammed into Gaza was grim.
"Nobody feels safe," an International Committee of the Red Cross worker said in a situation report on the ICRC website.
"The problem is that we have nowhere to run for shelter."
Streets were almost empty with the population too frightened to venture out. Most shops, including bakeries, remain closed.
Bombs have damaged the water system but it was too dangerous for the aid workers to help with repairs, the report said.
Hospitals have a minimum supply of drugs and other basics to treat the wounded but more will be needed in coming days, it said. Among the items provided were white sheets for the dead.
The United Nations said Gaza's utilities were barely functioning. The electric power plant has shut down and the sanitation system cannot treat the sewage.
In the cold winter weather, fuel for heating and cooking gas is no longer available, the United Nations said.
Israel has denied a humanitarian crisis is unfolding and has allowed only about 90 truckloads of food and medicine to enter the 1.5 million-Gaza Strip daily.
Israel occupied Gaza in the 1967 Middle East War and after Palestinian uprisings, formally ending its military rule in 2005 although it still controls the borders.
Hamas is believed to have 25,000 fighters. Its men have been maintaining a vigil along the Israeli frontier, observing army movements on the other side and broadcasting messages in Hebrew over field radios telling their enemy they are not afraid.
Agencies Last Mod: 03 Ocak 2009, 22:18