Israel launches deadly Gaza attacks 120 or more killed after missiles hit targets linked to Hamas Jenny Percival and agencies guardian.co.uk, Saturday 27 December 2008 10.08 GMT Bodies of Palestinians are laid out at Shifa hospital in Gaza after Israeli missile strikes. Photograph: Suhaib Salem/Reuters Dozens of Palestinians are dead and hundreds injured after the Israeli air force fired about 30 missiles on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. The Israeli military said it had attacked "terrorist infrastructure" and pledged to continue and expand the attacks if necessary. Hamas vowed to avenge what it called "the Israeli slaughter". A Gaza health official, Moawiya Hassanain, said at least 120 people were killed and more than 250 wounded. Television footage showed bodies scattered on a road and the dead and wounded being carried away. An officer raised his index finger in a show of Muslim faith and defiance. Civilians rushed to the targeted areas, trying to move the wounded in their cars to hospital. There was widespread damage to buildings. "I'm afraid we have at least 40 dead," a Hamas police spokesman, Islam Shahwan, told Hamas radio soon after the attacks. He said a police compound in Gaza City had been hosting a graduation ceremony for new personnel when it was attacked. The Gaza police chief, Tawfiq Jabber, was among the dead, the radio station said. Hamas said it would seek revenge, including launching new rocket attacks on Israel and sending suicide bombers to Israel. "Hamas will continue the resistance until the last drop of blood," said a Hamas spokesman, Fawzi Barhoum, speaking on a Gaza radio station. In the West Bank, the moderate Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, said in a statement that he "condemns this aggression" and called for restraint. An aide to the Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, told Reuters: "The operation will be pursued and widened as required and subject to [commanders'] assessments ... We are facing a period that will not be simple or easy." In a statement, the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) said the attacks were in retaliation for "the continuation of terrorist activity by the Hamas terror organisation from the Gaza Strip, and the continuation of rocket launching and targeting Israeli civilians". The strikes were based on recent intelligence and aimed at Hamas terror operations emanating from its headquarters, training camps and weapons warehouses, according to the IDF statement. Residents reported hearing two waves of explosions, with at least 15 blasts in the first wave. Many Hamas security compounds are in residential areas. The air strikes took place as children left school. Plumes of black smoke rose over Gaza City, sirens wailed through the streets and women frantically looked for their children. One man sat in the middle of a street in Gaza City, close to a security compound, slapping his face and covering his head with dust from the bombed-out building. "My son is gone, my son is gone," said Sadi Masri, 57. The shopkeeper said he sent his son out to buy cigarettes minutes before the air strikes and could not find him. "May I burn like the cigarettes, may Israel burn," Masri said. Today's attack represents an unprecedented number of simultaneous Israeli strikes on Gaza. At least two people were killed and 30 wounded by an attack in Khan Younis, a refugee camp in the south of Gaza. A Reuters correspondent said Gaza City port and security installations run by the Islamist Hamas group were badly damaged. The strikes follow a decision by Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert's security cabinet to widen reprisals for Palestinian rocket attacks. It is believed the operation could last several days. Israel yesterday reopened crossings into the Gaza Strip, allowing in humanitarian aid after an eight-day closure, in what was seen as a precursor to today's attacks. Yesterday, two Palestinian sisters aged five and 12 were accidently killed when a mortar apparently fired by Palestinian militants at Israel hit their home in northern Gaza. More than 50 rockets have been launched from Gaza in recent days, according to Israeli military officials, after the killing of three Hamas members by Israel. A six-month ceasefire in Gaza between Israel and Hamas ended last week.