Israeli troops advanced into Gaza on Sunday under cover of heavy air, tank and artillery fire after opening a ground war against the militant group Hamas on Saturday night.
By TAGHREED EL-KHODARY and ISABEL KERSHNER
The New York Times
Witnesses said the Israeli forces had punched across Gaza, bisecting its northern and southern parts, and had taken over certain strategic areas, including what the military has described as rocket launching sites.
The ground campaign came after a week of intense airstrikes. Israel’s stated goal was to destroy the infrastructure of Hamas, the Islamic group that controls Gaza’s government, and to significantly decrease the threat to southern Israel from Palestinian rocket fire.
In a telephone briefing for a group of foreign correspondents, a senior Israeli military official said that Israeli troops would hold the areas they have taken inside Gaza at least for the duration of the operation to prevent militants from returning to fire rockets from there.