Sunday, January 4, 2009
Israel launched a major ground invasion of the Gaza Strip on Saturday night, moving in tanks, infantry and artillery units after eight days of relentless air attacks failed to halt Hamas rocket fire from the narrow coastal territory.
Israeli officials indicated that the incursion would be lengthy but said they have no intention of reoccupying the densely populated strip more than three years after withdrawing troops and settlers. Less clear is whether Israel intends to use the ground assault to try to topple Hamas, which has been in control of Gaza for 18 months.
Hamas officials called on Palestinians to rise up against Israel with suicide attacks and vowed to make Gaza “a graveyard” for Israeli soldiers.
Israel’s military said on Sunday in a statement that an officer and a soldier were severely wounded during the overnight fighting. An additional 28 soldiers were also moderately wounded and were hospitalized. At the same time Israel said “dozens of armed Hamas operatives were hit”, which could not be independently confirmed.
The overnight operation combined ground attacks with air and naval forces pounding Hamas targets in Gaza City and elsewhere. Israeli jets also struck 45 targets, including tunnels and weapons storage facilities, the Israeli military said. The Israeli military has prevented foreign journalists from entering the Gaza Strip making it difficult to verify reports.
This article was posted: Sunday, January 4, 2009 at 4:37 am