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Latest on the Israeli ground offensive


Video by Oliver FARRY , Marian HENBEST

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-01-05

Israeli ground troops began moving into the Gaza Strip on Saturday shortly before 7:30pm Paris time (GMT+1). Keep track of the unfolding operations with the timeline below.

All times are Paris time (GMT+1)



Monday, 1:54 am: Hamas announces it will take part in Egypt-backed talks

Hamas officials confirm that they will send a delegation to Egypt later on Monday to take part in the first diplomatic talks since the Israeli offensive in Gaza began. The visit would coincide with a visit to Egypt by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is leading European efforts to push for a ceasefire.

Monday, 0:55 am: Israeli troops advance on Gaza City

Israeli troops and tanks surround Gaza City, effectively dividing the city and far northern areas from the rest of the territory, witnesses tell AFP. More fighting is reported in outer districts of the city as Israeli forces advance on the Gazan capital.


Sunday, 7:55 pm: Hamas has 'heavy responsibility' in Palestinians' suffering, says Sarkozy

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the Islamist movement Hamas "bears a heavy responsibility in the suffering of the Palestinian people in Gaza", in an interview with Lebanese newspapers to be published Monday. Sarkozy, as well as Russian and EU delegates, are headed to the region.


Sunday, 6:00 pm: Pro-Israeli demo draws thousands in Paris

12,000 demonstrators gathered on a street not far from the Israeli embassy in Paris to show support for Israel in its military offensive in Gaza, according to organisers, the CRIF, an umbrella group of French Jewish organisations.


Sunday, 5:00 pm: Palestinian death toll exceeds 500

At least 500 Palestinians have died in Israel's nine-day offensive on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, medicas said.


Sunday, 4:45 pm: Israeli President rejects ceasefire possibility

Israeli President Shimon Peres told American television that Israel didn't intend to occupy Gaza. But he rejected the idea of an immediate ceasefire to halt the Israeli ground offensive launched Saturday.


Sunday, 3:45 pm: Israel confirms soldier killed in Gaza offensive

The Israeli army has confirmed  that a soldier had been killed in clashes with Hamas fighters in the Gaza Strip.

Sunday, 2 pm: Fresh European calls for immediate ceasefire

Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg and European Union Commissionner for External Affairs Benita Ferrero-Waldner called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza before they flew to the Middle East with a delegation of European diplomats.

Earlier, the EU's foreign policy chief Javier Solana had also demanded an immediate ceasefire, adding that European nations were ready to contribute international monitors to help keep the peace.


Sunday, 12:30 pm: Pope urges immediate ceasefire

Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday called on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to "act immediately to end the current tragic situation" in the Gaza Strip.

Sunday, 10:40 am: EU says Israel breaches international law

European Union Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Louis Michel pledges €3 million in emergency aid for the Gaza strip and says in a statement: "Blocking access to people who are suffering and dying is a breach of humanitarian law."


British Prime minister Gordon Brown tells the BBC diplomats must "work harder than we've done for an immediate ceasefire. The Israelis must have some assurance that there are no rocket attacks coming into Israel".


Sunday, 7:58 am: Thirty Israeli soldiers wounded in Gaza ground offensive

Thirty Israeli soldiers have been injured, two of them seriously, since the start of the ground assault on Gaza, while dozens of armed Hamas operatives have also been hit, according to an Israeli military communiqué.


Sunday, 4:49 am: UN Security Council meeting ends with no joint statement on Gaza

The UN Security Council emergency meeting concludes without reaching an agreement on a unified Gaza statement, according to French ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert.


Sunday, 12:50 am: UN Secretary General calls for immediate ceasefire

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for an immediate end to Israel's ground operation in Gaza, according to a UN press office statement. A meeting of the UN Securtiy Council commences at 1am.

Saturday, 10:29 pm: 'Dozens' killed as Israeli ground troops move into Gaza

Dozens of Palestinians have been killed so far as Israeli tanks exchange fire with Hamas insurgents following Israel's ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, according to Israeli military sources. Hamas does not report on casualties among its fighters.


Saturday, 8:57 pm: Hamas vows to turn Gaza into "cemetery" for Israeli troops

"Your incursion into Gaza will not be a walk in the park and Gaza will become your cemetery God willing," Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan says, while reading a statement on Hamas television.
Saturday, 7:24 pm: Israeli ground forces enter Gaza strip

A small column of Israeli military vehicles, backed by combat helicopters, roll into the northern Gaza Strip following heavy artillery shelling.



Date created : 2009-01-04