Israel is launching a ground attack into Gaza tonight (January 2-3, 2009) according to an Israeli Defense Force (IDF) representative.
International voices have been calling for a cease-fire by Israel but Hamas has been launching and continues to fire rockets into Israel, which is provoking the Israeli leadership to launch the attack, we are told.
The aircraft attacks by Israel into Gaza continued well past sunset tonight for the first time since the air campaign began.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday a “durable and sustainable” cease-fire was needed to end the violence.
“We are working toward a cease-fire that would not allow a re-establishment of the status quo,” she said after meeting with President Bush at the White House.
The Bush-Rice meeting at the White House could have been as a result of Israel telling its key ally that the ground attack would commence soon….
Israeli soldiers stand on tanks at a staging area near Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2008. Israeli aircraft kept up a relentless string of assaults on Hamas-ruled Gaza on Tuesday, smashing a government complex, security installations and the home of a top militant commander as thousands of Israeli ground troops, backed by tanks and artillery, massed along the border, waiting for a signal to attack.(AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
Despite its use of precision weapons, Israel has been urged to further reduce civilian injuries and deaths inside Gaza.
A United Nations agency said the civilian death toll in Gaza was over 25 percent of the total killed in the violence. A leading Palestinian human rights group put it at 40 percent.
Israel made a big show during the last few days of allowing humanitarian supplies into Gaza and removing neutral civilians from Gaza….
Gaza is now a disaster area, with sewage sytems opened and the risk of disease on the rise.
CNN reported that Robert Serry, the U.N. special coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said during a video news conference that much of Gaza’s infrastructure has been destroyed.
“Protection of civilians, the fabric of Gaza, the future of the peace process and regional stability — all are trapped between the irresponsibility of Hamas rocket attacks and the excessiveness of Israel’s response,” he said from Jerusalem.
Israeli soldiers stand on their tanks in a deployment area near the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip. Israel has thousands of troops massed for a ground offensive on Gaza that would aim to deal a hammer blow to Hamas and re-establish Israel’s military credentials with its other foes, experts said.(AFP/Menahem Kahana)
ByThe Times (UK)
Israel is poised to launch a major ground offensive into Gaza tonight after allowing hundreds of foreigners living in the devastated territory to evacuate.
After a week of air strikes that have killed at least 420 Palestinians and left scores of buildings in rubble, the Israeli army was set to fling hundreds of troops and tanks into a blitz to stamp out Hamas’s military wing, The Times understands.
Despite the looming onslaught, more Hamas rockets – which have so far killed four Israelis – were fired into southern Israel today.
The Islamist group vowed that its attacks, which have lasted for years and which finally provoked the massive Israeli campaign, would not stop.
Egypt has urged Israel against launching a ground offensive against the Gaza Strip and is in contact with Hamas to seek an end to the week- long onslaught of the territory, the Foreign Ministry said on Friday.
Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit has sent a message to his Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni urging the Jewish state “to abstain from launching ground operations (into Gaza),” a statement said.
The message sent through the Egyptian ambassador to Tel Aviv also asked that Israel put an immediate end to its military operations against the territory, it added.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki said in the statement that Egypt was in talks with leaders of the Hamas movement which control Gaza about ” ceasefire proposals.”
Israel has called up reserves for an expected ground incursion into Gaza, which analysts say would sharply increase casualties among both Palestinians and Israelis.