Israel continued a two pronged attack into Gaza Sunday; a military effort it said would end Hamas rocket attacks into Israel.
CNN and the Associated Press are now reporting that Israeli troops gained control of the eastern section of northern Gaza Sunday, less than 24 hours after launching a ground incursion into the Palestinian territory, according to Palestinian security sources.
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Thousands of ground troops supported by tanks and helicopter gunships were added to the mix Saturday while air attacks on Hamas positions continued.
Israel seemed to put some blame on its number one ally the United States for failing to achieve a cease fire.
But perhaps Israel really blames its long-time Arab neighbors.
The Jerusalem Post reported that “Intensive diplomatic efforts led by US President George W. Bush and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with the leaders” of Arab nations including of Egypt, Jordan and Syria failed to create a satisfactory end state for Israel.
Israeli soldiers advance near the border with northern Gaza during a ground operation by the Israeli army late January 3, 2009. Israeli troops clashed with Hamas fighters as they advanced into Gaza on Saturday in the first ground action of an eight-day offensive on the Palestinian enclave, a witness and the Israeli army said.(Baz Ratner/Reuters)
Army ambulances were seen bringing Israeli wounded to a hospital in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba. The military said a total of 30 soldiers were injured in the opening hours of the offensive along with “dozens” of militants.
The Jerusalem Post said: “Prior to the ground incursion, senior diplomatic officials were reacting positively to the idea of reincorporating the Gaza Strip into the Palestinian Authority, with Fatah, along with some kind of international mechanism, in charge of the border crossings.”
The Prime Minister’s Office, meanwhile, issued a statement Saturday night saying the objective of the ground operation was to take control of the areas inside the Gaza Strip from where rockets are being launched on Israel.
But Mark Regez, the Israeli government spokesman told CNN, “We haven’t articulated regime change as the goal of this operation. Our goal is to protect our people.”
“In many ways, they are victims like us. Both the civilian population of southern Israel and the civilian population of the Gaza Strip have been victims of this terrible, extremist Hamas regime,” Regev said.
Despite that Israel’s Vice Premier Haim Ramon said Friday night in an interview on Israeli television that Israel must not end this operation with Hamas in charge of Gaza.
“What I think we need to do is to reach a situation in which we do not allow Hamas to govern,” Mr. Ramon said on Channel One. “That is the most important thing.”
By John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia
Regime Change? From The New York Times:
Israel in Gaza: Is the Real Target Hamas Rule?
Gaza, Israel Could Highlight Stark Obama, Bush Differences
Below from Haaretz:
The army believes the incursion into Gaza will do significant damage to Hamas’ standing army and at the same time give Hamas leaders a palpable sense that their rule is in danger. The ground invasion will also accelerate the diplomatic stopwatch. A delegation from the European Union “troika” (Germany, France, Great Britain) will reach Gaza on Sunday, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy is expected on Monday. Translated into military terminology that means the IDF has less than a week to make genuine progress in Gaza.
In the past two days the army chief of staff and the head of Southern Command visited troops massing along the Gaza border and approved the final plans. The message from the IDF commanders is: “We will meet our goals. There will be casualties as a result of the thrust into Gaza but they will not stop any part of the operation.” This attitude is different from that evinced during the Second Lebanon War, when the army withdrew on more than one occasion in response to casualties. One battalion commander told his company commander on Saturday that it’s possible that not everyone will return to meet again in a few days’ time.
This knowledge has not affected the army’s motivation and readiness, however. Hamas is not Hezbollah and the IDF circa January 2009 is not the IDF of 2006. It is sharper, more determined and better trained. The intelligence is infinitely better this time. The offensive was prepared over a long period of time. It is very aggressive, with massive air and artillery fire preceding the ground and artillery forces.
Read the rest:
Clashes were reported in Gaza City, the northern town of Beit Lahiya and the Jabaliya refugee camp. Both sides have reported casualties in the fighting.
The UN secretary general has called for an immediate halt to operations.
But an emergency Security Council meeting failed to agree a united approach to the Gaza conflict.
Read the rest from The BBC: