14 Jan 2009

WARNING: Very Graphic

Osama bin Laden has called for Muslims to wage a holy war against Israel over the invasion of Gaza. Skip related content

The al-Qaeda leader called for jihad in an audio tape that appeared on Islamist websites. In response, the US said it demonstrated bin Laden's isolation and it was merely an effort to raise money.

The news came as United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon visited the Middle East to press for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza has said 1,010 Palestinians - including over 670 civilians - have been killed in the offensive which began on December 27. Around 4,700 people have been wounded.

Ten Israeli soldiers and three civilians hit by rockets fired from the Gaza Strip have been killed in the violence. Israel has continued to drop bunker-busting bombs on around 35 smuggling tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border in a bid to halt Hamas re-arming.

Meanwhile, in Cairo, Mr Ban renewed his call for "an immediate and durable ceasefire" between the warring sides. An unnamed Israeli official has said Egypt, which is trying to broker a truce, is pushing for a deal by the weekend.

The official said "there has been progress" on talks over border controls to prevent Hamas from replenishing its arsenal. But he said Israeli leaders were non-committal about the prospect of reaching a ceasefire accord in the next few days. Elsewhere, three rockets launched from Lebanon hit fields outside
the Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona, the second such attack in less than a week.


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