Foreign Minister Tzip Livni said Sunday that Israel’s war with Hamas is not a one-time conflict that will end with an agreement.
Israel on Sunday battled closer to Gaza City. Hamas resisted in heavy small arms fire.
The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said its air strikes on Saturday night and Sunday morning had targeted tunnels, weapons stores and a mosque that were allegedly used to store weapons.
Witnesses told the Jerusalem Post that fighting in the city’s Sheikh Ajleen neighborhood erupted as IDF infantrymen and tanks advanced toward the densely-populated Gaza City.
AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner
The fighting, on the southwest side of the Hamas-ruled territory’s biggest population center, suggested Israel was intensifying a more than two-week-old offensive.
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Israel warned of the escalation publically and in leaflets dropped on the area.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad said they ambushed the soldiers. Gaza on Jan. 3.
The fighting in the approach to Gaza City appeared to be one of the fiercest land battles since ground forces were sent into
At least 12 people were killed, Palestinian health officials said.
CNN Reported that the Hamas commander in charge of launching rockets into Israel from the Gaza City area was killed Saturday by Israeli ground fire, the IDF said.
Amir Mansi was spotted firing a rocket Saturday from the Jabel Rise area, east of Gaza City, during a ground force operation, the IDF said. Israeli forces opened fire, killing Mansi and wounding two other Hamas operatives, who were captured, the Israelis said.
Mansi was the leading Hamas authority on the Grad long-range missile-launching system, the IDF said. Grad rockets have allowed Hamas to reach farther into Israel than in previous attacks.
The BBC said Hamas launched a barrage of rockets on Sunday, two of which struck 42 km (26 miles) inside southern Israel at the city of Beersheba, the military said. There were no reported casualties or damage.
Some 820 Gazans and 13 Israelis have reportedly died in 14 days of fighting. Medical staff said 235 children are among at least 820 Palestinians killed in the conflict.
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Israeli officials also said that Hamas was nearing exhaustion.
These statements could be setting the framework for an end to Operation Cast Lead by Israel. But not an end to the long term nature of the conflict.
Israel may be close to “the end of the operation” because of a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire, Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai said Sunday.
“The decision of the U.N. Security Council doesn’t leave us much leeway,” Vilnai told Israel Radio. “It would seem then, I’m guessing, that we are close to the end of the ground operation and the end of the operation altogether.”