More signs of an impending ground assault from Israel against Hamas in Gaza this Saturday night in the Middle East.
For the first time, Israeli artillery unleashed a barrage on targets within Gaza, after a week-long air assault subsided.
THE REPORT YOU ARE SEEING HERE IS FROM EARLIER SATURDAY. INFORMATION CURRENT STARTING 1900 GMT SATURDAY IS AT:
Israel Launched Ground Offensive
Into Gaza; Saturday Night Jan 3-4
Leaflets, phone messages and other media were used to warn Gazans to leave or risk personal danger.
The leaflets were signed by the commander of the Israeli military and were dropped over northern Gaza on Saturday morning, warning residents to “leave the area immediately” to ensure their safety.
But Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai played down speculation the artillery fire and leaflets promised a ground offensive.
“I don’t think this is the next stage. This is part of a military campaign being waged and now artillery cannons have joined in,” he told Israel Radio.
Fox News reporters said they had seen tanks reporitioning and moving closer to Gaza.
Troops and tanks looked poised to attack following the week-long air assault, according to several observers.
An Israeli soldier walks in front of tanks and armored vehicles in a staging area near Israel’s border with Gaza, Thursday, Jan. 1, 2009. Israel demanded international monitors as a key term of any future truce with Gaza Strip militants, as its warplanes bombed the parliament building in Gaza City on Thursday and its ships attacked coastline positions of the territory’s Islamic Hamas rulers.(AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)