Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

BUSINESS DAILY

New French economy minister signals changes to 35-hour week

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

'Macron-economy' pun already worn out

Read more

DEBATE

What Next for Gaza? Lasting Ceasefire Agreed After 50 Days of War (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

What Next for Gaza? Lasting Ceasefire Agreed After 50 Days of War

Read more

FOCUS

Video: Milan is starting point for Syrian refugees’ European odyssey

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Terrorist ransoms: Should governments pay up for hostages?

Read more

ENCORE!

Kristen Stewart and Juliette Binoche star in 'Clouds of Sils Maria'

Read more

WEB NEWS

India: journalist launches "Rice Bucket Challenge"

Read more

WEB NEWS

Russian aid convoy: Mission accomplished?

Read more

  • Ukraine calls on NATO amid rebel counter-attack

    Read more

  • New French economy minister takes swipe at 35-hour work week

    Read more

  • Erdogan's inauguration paves way for constitutional change

    Read more

  • Air France suspends flights to Ebola-stricken Sierra Leone

    Read more

  • Uzi shooting by 9-year-old rekindles gun debate

    Read more

  • Mother of American journalist asks IS leader for his release

    Read more

  • UN probe accuses Syrian regime, Islamists of ‘crimes against humanity’

    Read more

  • Uruguayans sign up to grow marijuana at home

    Read more

  • Missouri governor appoints black public safety director

    Read more

  • French unemployment rises 0.8% in July to record high

    Read more

  • Video: Iraq’s Yazidis flee to spiritual capital of Lalish

    Read more

  • Video: Milan is starting point for Syrian refugees’ European odyssey

    Read more

  • Airstrikes and Assad - Obama’s military conundrum in Syria

    Read more

  • IMF’s Lagarde investigated in French corruption case

    Read more

  • American journalist held captive in Syria arrives in US

    Read more

  • In pictures: The ministers in France's new government

    Read more

  • 'Lasting' ceasefire agreed for Gaza, Abbas says

    Read more

Israeli forces pursue drive into Gaza City

Video by Shona BHATTACHARYYA

Latest update : 2009-01-14

Israeli forces are engaging Palestinian militants in the streets of Gaza City as the offensive against Hamas enters its 19th day. With the death toll approaching 1,000, aid agencies warn of an increasingly dire humanitarian crisis.

Owen Fairclough comments on Barack Obama's Middle Eastern dilemmas

 

AFP - Israeli forces battled Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip's main city early Wednesday and bombed the enclave's southern border with Egypt as the death toll from the war on Hamas neared 1,000.
  
As the war entered its 19th day, witnesses said the number of air strikes on Gaza City and other parts of the north was well down on the previous night, but that heavy fighting continued there.
  
"Tanks are shelling Palestinian fighters, who are responding with RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades). There is heavy machine-gun fire on both sides."
  
There were no immediate reports of casualties.
  
Speaking on Tuesday, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said Israel's offensive was "becoming more ferocious each day as the number of victims rises.
  
"Israel is keeping up this aggression to wipe out our people over there," he added from his base in the occupied West Bank.
  
Israeli special forces backed by tanks and air strikes had thrust ever deeper into Gaza's City, advancing hundreds of metres (yards) into several neighbourhoods in the south, witnesses said.
  
The crump of tank shells and the crackle of gunfire echoed through much of the day.
  
Palestinian medical sources said around 70 people were killed on Tuesday, taking the overall toll to around 975 Palestinians, with another 4,400 wounded.
  
Ten Israeli soldiers and three civilians have been killed in combat or by rocket attacks since December 27, when the Jewish state began its deadliest ever offensive on Gaza, ruled by the Islamist Hamas movement since mid-2007.
  
Israel also carried out a wave of bombing raids on the border town of Rafah, sending hundreds of people fleeing onto the streets, and those strikes continued into the night.
  
The military said its warplanes had attacked more than 100 targets since early on Monday morning, including 55 weapons-smuggling tunnels in southern Gaza.
  
Eighteen rockets and mortar rounds were fired into Israel, an army spokesman said -- barely a quarter of the number recorded at the start of the offensive. No casualties were reported.
  
Israel's military chief said Operation Cast Lead was making progress but warned that troops faced "complicated" conditions in Gaza City, home to more than half a million people and where Israel has little combat experience.
  
"We have already achieved a lot against both Hamas's infrastructure and its military wing but we still have work to be done," the chief of staff, Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi, told lawmakers.
  
A senior official told the Ynet Internet news site that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had "defined two objectives -- an end to Hamas fire and terror, and an end to the organisation's military build-up. As long as these objectives are not secured, we will not be under any pressure (to end the operation)."
  
Saying "nobody should stand there with a stop watch or try to put a gun to our head" to end the offensive, he added: "We are not seeking an exit, but rather, success. As Olmert defined it, what we need here is a strategy of success, regardless of how much time it takes."
  
A Hamas delegation is currently in Cairo for talks on a Western-backed proposal drawn up by President Hosni Mubarak to end the fighting.
  
A senior source in Cairo indicated Egypt was getting increasingly frustrated at Hamas's response so far to its initiative, saying "they need to say 'yes', now, to our plan."
  
A top Hamas leader, Mussa Abu Marzuk, acknowledged the movement had "substantial observations" about the initiative but said there was "still a chance" they would accept it.
  
Hillary Clinton, due to become US secretary of state in a week's time, said Barack Obama's administration would make "every effort" to forge peace but ruled out talks with Hamas until it recognised Israel's right to exist.
  
"You cannot negotiate with Hamas until it renounces violence, recognises Israel and agrees to abide by past agreements," she told a Senate confirmation hearing. "That is just for me an absolute."
  
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and with Mubarak, pressing them "for the specific measures necessary to deliver a full and sustainable ceasefire" in line with last week's UN Security Council Resolution.
  
Brown's office said he was "deeply troubled" by the suffering in Gaza, urged Israel to respect its humanitarian commitments and called on Arab leaders to "say more clearly that Hamas must disarm."
  
Aid agencies have warned of a growing humanitarian crisis in the territory where the vast majority of the 1.5 million population depends on foreign aid and is already reeling from 18 months of punishing Israeli blockade.
  
"Israeli bombardment is causing extensive destruction to homes and to public infrastructure throughout the Gaza Strip and is jeopardizing water, sanitation and medical services," said a UN field report.
  
"As of this morning (Tuesday), 60 percent of Gazans are not receiving any power. The rest receive electricity intermittently," the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

 

 

Note: Because of the high number of user reactions to the Gaza conflict, we are posting only a selection on the site. Please keep your reactions short, relevant and civil. (See our Rules of conduct.)

 


 

Date created : 2009-01-14

COMMENT(S)