520 Palestinians killed since Israeli offensive began (Lead)

January 5th, 2009 - 12:42 am ICT by IANS  

Gaza City, Jan 4 (DPA) At least 520 Palestinians have been killed and 2,500 injured since Dec 27 in the Israeli offensive against militants in the Gaza Strip, a medical official in the salient said Sunday.The total makes Israel’s Operation Cast Lead the bloodiest offensive against the Palestinians since the Palestinian Authority came into being in 1994.

Previously, the highest toll was in Israel’s Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, when, following a wave of deadly suicide bombings in Israeli cities, troops entered the West Bank.

According to UN figures, 497 Palestinians were killed in the five weeks of fighting in that operation.

The Palestinian medical official said that since Israeli ground troops entered the salient Saturday night, some 50 Palestinians have been killed and 200 injured.

An Israeli soldier was also killed Sunday morning in ground fighting in the enclave, and 31 were injured.

Four Israelis - three civilians and a soldier - have been killed by Palestinian rockets since the Israeli operation began and dozens more injured.

Israel launched Operation Cast Lead with a wave of airstrikes Dec 27, in response to massive rocket bombardments of Israeli cities following the Dec 19 end of a nervous six-month truce between the Jewish state and the Gazan militias.

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