Israel bombs Hamas sites, split on ground invasion

Israeli warplanes and gunboats blasted more than two dozen Hamas targets Saturday, including weapons storage facilities, training centers and leaders’ homes as Israel’s offensive against Gaza’s Islamic militant rulers entered a second week.

There were tentative signs that the current phase of fighting may be nearing an end. Most of the airstrikes targeted empty buildings and abandoned sites, suggesting Israel may be running out of targets.

Israeli defense officials said some 10,000 troops, including tank, artillery and special operations units, were massed on the Gaza border and prepared to invade. They said top commanders are split over whether to send in ground forces, in part because such an operation could lead to heavy casualties but also because they believe Hamas already has been dealt a heavy blow. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were classified discussions.

By IBRAHIM BARZAK and JOSEF FEDERMAN, Associated Press

At the same time, international cease-fire efforts were also gaining momentum. French President Nicolas Sarkozy is visiting the region next week to try to end the violence, and President George W. Bush and U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon both spoke in favor of an internationally monitored truce.

But Hamas, in its first reaction to the proposal on Saturday, reacted coolly to the idea of international monitors.

Israel launched the offensive on Dec. 27 in response to intensifying rocket fire by Hamas militants in Gaza. The operation has killed more than 430 Palestinians, including….

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/2009010
3/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_israel_palestinians

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