Updated 12/30 1:15 PM EST
Israeli warplanes pounded the Gaza Strip for a third straight day, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak promised that the war would continue “to the bitter end.” The death toll has continued to rise, with at least 375 killed and over 1,600 wounded.
Eyewitnesses on the ground in the strip report an increasingly dire humanitarian situation, with widespread blackouts, food shortages, and impossibly crowded hospitals, while United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon said he was “deeply alarmed” by the escalation of violence. And though Israel has not yet launched its ground invasion of the strip, deputy Prime Minister Haim Ramon says his government is committed to toppling the Hamas government. In fact Ramon went so far as to say Israel would look favorably on any Gaza Strip government that didn’t include Hamas.
Today also marked the first day stock markets in the west have been open since the Israeli attacks began, and the prospect of open-ended violence has sent commodities higher in an already jittery market. Oil in particular jumped over 5% in volatile trading in the US.
But as the market hopes for a quick end to a destabilizing war, the White House signaled its further backing of the Israeli attacks. As much of the world has called for both sides to cease attacks Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reiterated the US position that the Hamas is solely responsible for the violence.