Israeli troops launch first ground raid on Gaza, ignore UN call for ceasefire
GAZA: Israeli troops
have launched a ground operation in the northern Gaza Strip, the first since
the offensive against Hamas began, as Palestinian deaths continue to mount. The
navy commandos’ brief incursion - which ignored a United Nations call for a
ceasefire - targeted a rocket launcher site, according to Israeli public radio.
The armed branch of
Hamas confirmed that Israeli troops had exchanged gunfire with Palestinian
fighters. Thousands of residents in northern Gaza have fled their homes, after
a warning from Israel’s military that they should leave “for their own safety.”
Mahmoud Abbas is to ask the United Nations for international protection as the
six-day offensive continues.
Liberation Organisation said in a statement, “President Abbas will present a
letter to the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert
Serry, addressed to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, to officially put the
State of Palestine under the UN international protection system and to form a
legal committee for immediate follow-up.”
Israel says it plans to
step up its offensive against Hamas militants in Gaza over the next 24 hours in
an effort to stop missiles being fired into Israel. It has been massing
military hardware and troops close to the border with northern Gaza.
Sky’s Alex Rossi said
more than 100 Israeli armoured personnel carriers and tanks are in the area. Israel
began its offensive on Tuesday in response to weeks of rocket attacks from Hamas
militants in Gaza, who are understood to have fired more than 600 missiles into
Two more rockets shot
from Gaza were destroyed over the Tel Aviv area by the Iron Dome missile
defence system on Sunday, several hours after another two rockets were
intercepted over Lod, close to the country's main airport. Hamas has denied
being behind a rocket attack on Israel from Lebanon on Saturday evening.
Earlier that day an
Israeli warplane bombed the home of Gaza's police chief and damaged a nearby mosque,
killing at least 18 people and wounding 50. It was the deadliest single attack
during the five-day conflict, which has now claimed 165 Palestinian lives and
left more than 1,000 injured.
The injured were taken
to al Shifa hospital in Gaza City as the bombardment continued. Dr Ayman al
Sahabany, director of emergency ward at the hospital, said: "Women and
children are more than half of the casualties. And children form a third of the
No Israelis have died
so far in the latest conflict, and many of the rockets fired into the country
have been intercepted by Iron Dome. Speaking before an international summit in
Vienna, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said there was an "urgent
need" to stop the bloodshed.