Jultra Truth. Freedom. Oh and the end of New Labour and Tony Blair, Ian Blair, ID cards, terror laws and the NWO and their lies

Sunday, January 04, 2009

480 dead, 2300 wounded in Gaza

Guardian: "Israeli tanks and thousands of troops today pushed deep into the Gaza strip in a dramatic escalation of the conflict.

Soldiers reached as far as the Mediterranean coast, cutting Gaza in half and seizing control of large areas of the overcrowded territory.

Israel's ground operation, which had been widely anticipated, began on Saturday night, the eighth of the conflict, and is the biggest Israeli assault on Gaza since it withdrew its Jewish settlers in 2005.

Television footage showed troops wearing night vision goggles, their faces painted in camouflage, marching in single file across the border.

Thick clouds of smoke hovered over Gaza as the Israeli attack targeted the northern towns of Beit Hanoun, Beit Lahiya and Jabaliya, all of which have been scenes of frequent scenes of Israeli incursions over recent years.

Israeli troops were also seen in the southern Gaza strip, near the town of Rafah, along the Egyptian border.

The streets of Gaza City were deserted and the city was surrounded by Israeli forces to the north, east and south.

Naval ships in the Mediterranean continued to fire shells into Gaza, along with artillery rounds from the east and repeated air strikes across the length of the territory.

Tens of thousands of Israeli reservists were called up, a sign that the operation could yet deepen.

Palestinian hospital doctors said 23 Palestinians have been killed in Israel's ground offensive since midnight. They said three were Hamas fighters and the rest civilians.

Dr Said Judeh, of the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya, said eight people had been killed in an Israeli artillery strike. He said they were among a group of people trying to leave their homes to shelter in a nearby school.

Beit Lahiya is the scene of some of the heaviest fighting, and it was reported today that five members of the same family had been killed in two separate artillery strikes on their home there.

At least 30 Israeli troops were injured after the invasion began late on Saturday night, with two, a soldier and an officer, seriously hurt.

The Hamas al-Aqsa television channel today reported that Hamas fighters had captured two Israeli soldiers, but the Israeli army said it had no knowledge of any such incident and that previous Hamas reports of Israeli casualties had proved inaccurate.

The Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, said the Israelis were "peace seekers". "We are not war hungry, but we shall not, I repeat shall not, allow a situation where our towns, villages and civilians are constantly targeted by Hamas," he said. "It will not be easy or short, but we are determined.

Brigadier General Avi Benayahu, an Israeli military spokesman, said the military's goals in launching what it called "phase two" of its campaign in Gaza were "to deal a heavy blow to the Hamas terror organisation, to strengthen Israel's deterrence and to create a better security situation for those living around the Gaza Strip that will be maintained for the long term".

The decision to launch a ground offensive came after a late-night meeting between the prime minister, Ehud Olmert, Barak and the foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, which lasted until 4am on Saturday.

A security cabinet meeting then approved the operation, although two ministers reportedly abstained.

The development followed another day of intense Israeli bombing in Gaza on Saturday. Among the targets destroyed was the American International School in northern Gaza, a private school which has been attacked by Palestinian militants in the past.

Another air strike destroyed a mosque in Beit Lahiya, killing around a dozen Palestinians.

The death toll in Gaza climbed to at least 480, with more than 2,300 wounded, according to Palestinian medical officials."

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