Israeli Ground Forces Invade Gaza

January 4, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Israeli ground troops are closing in Gaza City in the latest round of violence between Israel and Hamas. Thousands of troops crossed the border Saturday following a week of airstrikes. Almost 500 Palestinians have been killed in the attacks that Israel claims is retaliation for bombings by Hamas.The Israeli troops, supported by tanks and helicopter gunships, were met with firefights as explosions echoed across the city. Hamas is believed to have 15,000 fighters in Gaza, and a Hamas spokesman promised a bloody response to the occupying Israelis. Sources tell ABC News that Israel plans to encircle Gaza City and its 250,000 inhabitants by morning.

Ehud Barak/Israeli Defense Minister said, "We are peace seekers, we have restrained ourselves for a long time but now is the time to do what needs to be done." Israel said its goal in Gaza is to destroy Hamas' infrastructure and take control of areas used by Hamas to launch rockets into Israel.

In the past week Hamas has been defiant, firing more than 400 rockets and mortars into towns in Southern Israel. 4 Israelis have died in those attacks. But Palestinians claim more than 400 of their people have died, many of them women and children, since the Israeli air strikes began.

From the West Bank to London, protestors are demanding an end to the offensive. And Saturday night the UN Security Council was convened to discuss the crisis.

Riyad Mansour/Permanent Observer of Palestine to the UN: "This is immoral! This is illegal! ...The Security Council has to bring Israel into compliance..."

But there is no end in sight to what Israel's leaders expect will be a lengthy and bloody fight.


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