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Israel invades Gaza
From a Saturday, January 3, 2009 entry on Informed Comment a blog run by Juan Cole
Israel invades Gaza
After a four-hour artillery barrage, Israeli troops moved into the northern part of the Gaza strip on Saturday.
posted by Juan Cole @ 1/03/2009 02:00:00 PM
Israeli ground troops and tanks cut swaths through the Gaza Strip early today, cutting the coastal territory into two and surrounding its biggest city as the new phase of a devastating offensive against Hamas militants gained momentum.
The military used overwhelming firepower from tanks, artillery and aircraft to protect the advancing soldiers, and Gaza officials said at least 31 civilians were killed in the onslaught. The military said troops killed several dozen militants, but Gaza officials could confirm only four dead — in part because rescue teams could not reach the battle zones. One Israeli soldier was killed.
The ground invasion and live images of the fighting in Gaza drew international condemnations and dominated news coverage on Arab satellite TV stations, many of which aired footage of wounded Palestinians at hospitals. Hamas threatened to turn Gaza into an Israeli "graveyard."
Thousands of soldiers in three brigade-size formations pushed into Gaza after nightfall Saturday, beginning a long-awaited ground offensive against the area's Hamas rulers after a week of intense aerial bombardment. Black smoke billowed over Gaza City at first light as bursts of machine gun fire rang out.
The ground operation is the second phase in an offensive that began as a weeklong aerial onslaught aimed at halting Hamas rocket fire that has reached deeper and deeper into Israel, threatening major cities and one-eighth of Israel's population.
The new deaths brought the death toll in the Gaza Strip to more than 500 since Dec. 27. Palestinian and U.N. officials say at least 100 civilians are among the dead.
Sunday, January 4, 2009 : Hamas vows to fight back as Israeli ground forces push deeper into territory.
At least 30 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed since fighting began late on Saturday, according to Palestinian medical sources.
An Israeli soldier was killed on Sunday in the fighting, the Israeli army said.
Thousands of Israeli troops entered the Gaza Strip overnight with tanks and helicopters, accompanied by naval support and air strikes.
The ground offensive followed eight days of intense Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, purportedly aimed at ending cross-border rockets being fired by Hamas fighters from the territory into southern Israel.
The Israeli assault, codenamed "Operation Cast Lead", has killed more than 507 Palestinians and wounded more than 2,400 others. Four Israelis have been killed by the Hamas rocket strikes in the same time.Read More
Sunday, January 4, 2009 : A Gaza City resident says he's been sleeping in his living room for the last three days because of fears an Israeli airstrike will hit a police building he can see from his bedroom window. Muhammad Shariff talks about what life is like inside Gaza as Israeli bombs rain down.