Jerusalem: Hamas leader and de-facto Palestinian prime minister in Gaza Ismail Haniya on Tuesday issued a statement from his hideout, seeking to boost morale in Gaza and vowing its people would not "surrender" to the Israeli ground troops operating in the Strip.
"The ground aggression on the Gaza Strip is proof that the Occupation (Israel) has failed to force the population of the Gaza Strip to surrender," he said in the statement sent to reporters.
"This war against Gaza would be harder if it were carried out against other peoples in the world, but the Palestinian people in Gaza are defeating their enemy by their steadfastness and faith."
The people of Gaza may not have tanks and warplanes, he said, but they have the strength, the will, the patience and the ability to survive under severe conditions.
Meanwhile, an Israeli spokesman in Tel Aviv said several members of Hamas' armed wing were among the more than 46 people killed at a UN school in the northern Gaza refugee camp of Jabaliya, a military spokesman in Tel Aviv charged.
He said Israel had the names of two of the Hamas militants killed, Imad Abu Askar and Hassan Abu Askar, and said that according to Israeli information they were members of a Hamas' rocket and mortar launching squad.
The squad had been firing mortar shells from the school territory at Israeli ground troops stationed several kilometres outside the refugee camp, he said. The ground troops responded by also firing mortar shells in the direction of the fire.
"This is not the first time that Palestinian militants have fired from within UN schools," he charged.
Local residents had earlier said Palestinian militants had indeed fired mortar shells at the Israel ground troops stationed outside Jabaliya shortly before the Israeli attack, but from near the school, not from inside.