Left: Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh
(Tel Aviv) The Israeli govenrment last night threatened to assassinate Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh if militants with ties to Hamas did not release captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit unharmed.
The remaining Hamas political leaders - including Haniyeh -- have gone into hiding. The assasination warning was reportedly delivered to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a letter.
Militant groups have issued new demands before they will free Shalit, calling for the release of 1,000 prisoners being held by Israel and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis have not yet proven fruitful.
"After a week of continuous and long contacts with all parties, Palestinian, Arab, international and particularly Egyptian, the president ... is still exerting efforts to stop the Israeli aggression and avoid more disasters for the Palestinian people," he said in a written statement. "The next hours are critical, sensitive and serious. And though the efforts are still ongoing, we have not reached an acceptable solution until now."
Israeli warplanes continued the bombardment of Gaza in 30 air raids last night, hitting the Hamas-run interior ministry, suspected Hamas training camps, and access roads. The anticipated invasion of northern Gaza has not yet taken place.
Electrical power has been severed to hundreds of thousands of residents in Gaza, and humanitarian organizations fear that there will soon be no tap water for many of the Strip's 1.4 million residents.