Israeli ground forces have crossed into the Gaza Strip, signaling an
expansion of Israel's offensive against the Palestinian militant group
Witnesses say Israeli tanks and troops backed by helicopter gunships
entered northern Gaza under darkness Saturday, around the town of Beit
Lahiya. Media reports say there is heavy fighting in the area.
Israeli military officials say the operation will be lengthy, and
involves destroying the Hamas military infrastructure in the Gaza
Thousands of Israeli troops and tanks have massed on the Gaza border in
recent days, preparing for a possible ground invasion. Israel has also
ordered the call-up of thousands of military reservists
Israeli warplanes, gunboats and artillery attacked Hamas targets in Gaza Saturday.
One Israeli airstrike killed a senior Hamas commander (Abu-Zakariya al-Jamal),
the third top Hamas figure to die in the fighting. Warplanes also
struck a mosque in northern Gaza, killing at least 10 people, and a
Palestinian college called the American school.
Israel's army says the college has been used as a base to launch rockets at Israel.
From Syria, exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal vowed revenge and warned Israel against a ground incursion.
Hamas militants fired about 20 more rockets into southern Israel today.
One rocket hit a building in the city of Ashdod, wounding two people.
The United States is calling for a cease-fire but says it is up to Israel whether to invade Gaza.
In his weekly radio address today, U.S. President George Bush blamed
Hamas for instigating the violence and said the group's rockets attacks
on Israel are an act of terror. He said the United States is working
for a cease-fire, but that a one-sided accord would not be acceptable.
He also called for international monitors to ensure the militants stop
smuggling weapons into Gaza.
Officials say at least 460 Palestinians have been killed in the
conflict. The United Nations estimates about a quarter of those have
been civilians. To limit civilian casualties, Israeli aircraft have
been dropping leaflets over Gaza warning people to leave their homes
before air strikes are launched.
Hamas has killed three Israeli civilians and a soldier with its daily rocket attacks.
Thousands of Israeli Arabs demonstrated today in the northern Israeli
town of Sakhnin against Israel's attacks on Hamas. Pro-Palestinian
demonstrations also took place in London, Madrid, Paris and other
European cities, as well as in the Afghan capital, Kabul.