Saturday, Jan 11, 2008
Israel has engaged Hamas fighters in their urban strongholds for the first time as it warned civilians that it would escalate the war in Gaza.
As both sides defied a United Nations resolution calling for a ceasefire and the crisis entered its third week, Israeli military aircraft dropped leaflets over the tiny Palestinian enclave that said “a new phase” of the offensive had begun.
The warning appeared to herald a fresh push by Israeli forces to cripple the Hamas military wing by confronting its fighters on the ground after a two-week campaign of air strikes and artillery fire.
The leaflets warned that Israel will soon “intensify its operations against the tunnels, arms depots, and terrorists throughout the Gaza Strip.
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“For your security and that of your families, you are asked not to approach terrorists, weapons depots and arms,” they said.
Israeli tanks and troops fought their way deeper into Gaza’s main cities. The first gun battles on the outskirts of Gaza City saw Israeli soldiers kill 15 Hamas militants, while Palestinian medics said the overall toll rose to 821.
Israeli ground forces also claimed to have killed the commander of the Hamas rocket launching cells in Gaza City. The military said that Amir Mansi was spotted preparing an attack across the frontier with Israel when he was shot dead by infantry.
This article was posted: Sunday, January 11, 2009 at 5:25 am