Latest on the Israeli ground offensive
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Israeli ground troops began moving into the Gaza Strip on Saturday shortly before 7:30 pm Paris time (GMT+1). Keep track of the unfolding operations with the timeline below.
All times are Paris time (GMT+1)
Monday, January 5
7:00 pm: French President Sarkozy says Gaza violence must halt
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, on a peacemaking mission to the Middle East, calls for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas fighters in the Gaza Strip "as soon as possible".
Meanwhile President Mahmoud Abbas says his Palestinian Authority will not use Israel's assault in the Gaza Strip to return to the Hamas-ruled territory.
6:45 pm: Heavy clashes reported between Hamas fighters and Israeli troops
Israeli troops are engaged in heavy fighting with Hamas militants in Gaza City for the first time since the start of the ground offensive, according to Israeli military sources and witnesses.
“Violence has increased in the last two hours; fighting has been intensifying,” said FRANCE 24 correspondent Radja Abou Dagga in Gaza City shortly after nightfall. “We can hear clashes, machine guns, all the way between where we stand and the eastern border,” added Zuheir al Najaar, another FRANCE 24 correspondent reporting from Gaza City.
5:00 pm: Israel says it has detained several Hamas members in Gaza
An Israeli army spokesperson told the AFP news agency that the Israeli army has detained dozens of Hamas members in the Gaza Strip.
2:00 pm: Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni rejects immediate ceasefire
Following talks with EU envoys, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni says the equation in the Middle East has changed with the latest Gaza offensive.
"Before the military operation, Hamas targets Israelis whenever it likes and Israel shows restraint," Livni told foreign ministers from the EU. "This is no longer going to be the equation. When Israel is targeted, Israel is going to retaliate."
11:15 am: Gaza City is "partially surrounded", says Israeli defence minister
Defence Minister Ehud Barak says Gaza City is partially surrounded by Israeli troops. On Gaza's northern border with Israel, says FRANCE 24’s Lucas Menget, "the Israeli army, backed by artillery and helicopters, is slowly advancing a couple of kilometres from the city centre. It is engaged in heavy fighting, especially in the Zeitoun neighbourhood, one of the Hamas strongholds."
10:00 am: Israel allows a convoy of humanitarian aid into Gaza, army says
Israel allows a convoy of humanitarian aid to enter the aid-dependent Gaza Strip, the army said. "A convoy of 80 trucks transporting humanitarian aid has started to pass through the Kerem Shalom crossing" in the south, a military spokesman said.
7:10 am: Israeli troops battle Hamas fighters near Gaza city
Israeli troops and Hamas fighters battle at dawn on the fringes of Gaza City amid tank, artillery and air strikes. Meanwhile, Palestinian medics report that the death toll from the offensive has reached 510.
Israeli air forces have hit 30 targets in Gaza overnight, according to an army spokesperson. "In particular, warplanes targeted a mosque in Jabaliya where arms were being stored, as well as houses containing arms caches and vehicles that were transporting rocket launchers and armed men," he said.
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.
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.
|Fighting in the Gaza Strip. Footage by Gaza-based Ramattan news agency.|
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