Rory McCarthy and Haroon Siddique
London Guardian 
Monday, Jan 5, 2008
Israeli soldiers and Hamas militants fought gun battles in the streets of Gaza City for the first time this morning, with Israeli troops going house to house searching for Hamas fighters.
The fighting came as Israeli forces seized control of large parts of the Gaza Strip, dividing the territory and forcing tens of thousands of people to flee their homes as the death toll mounted under relentless artillery and gunfire.
The Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, vowed today to press on until Israel achieved its objective of “peace and tranquility” for residents in the south of the country, who are still enduring bombardment from Hamas rockets and mortar rounds.
(ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW)
“Hamas has sustained a very harsh blow,” Barak told the Israeli parliament’s foreign affairs and defence committee. “But we still have not reached our objectives, so the offensive continues.”
Palestinian medical officials said at least 12 civilians were killed this morning. Some of the heaviest fighting was reported to be taking place east of Gaza City, in the Zeitoun district, with three Palestinian children killed by an Israeli tank shell. Israeli forces killed seven members of a Palestinian family in a strike on their home in the Beach refugee camp.