Israel launches ground offensive

Israeli ground forces have invaded Gaza, engaging in fierce battles with Hamas. Saturday night’s...

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Israeli ground forces have invaded <?xml:namespace prefix="st1" ns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags"?><city w:st="on"><place w:st="on">Gaza, engaging in fierce battles with Hamas.

Saturday night’s invasion followed an eight-day bomb incursion that has killed hundreds of Palestinians and caused widespread destruction.

<place w:st="on"><country-region w:st="on">France</country-region> has lead international criticism of the invasion and the United Nations Security Council has held a special meeting regarding the crisis.

As many as 10 000 Israeli troops crossed into <place w:st="on"><city w:st="on">Gaza backed by columns of tanks and F-16 war planes. <?xml:namespace prefix="o" ns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office"?>

The operation was <country-region w:st="on">Israel</country-region>’s largest offensive in <place w:st="on"><city w:st="on">Gaza since it left the coastal region in late 2005.

The Israeli government said the operation would last some time while overnight 45 targets were attacked however the ground operation has made Hamas even more defiant as it claimed Israel has walked into its trap threatening that the coastal strip would become a grave yard for Israeli soldiers.

Two hundred and eighty five Israeli soldiers have been injured while two are in a serious condition.

Palestinian UN Observer, Riyad Mansour said the Israeli invasion was illegal.

“<country-region w:st="on">Israel</country-region> cannot continue to behave as a state above international law and it is the responsibility of the Security Council to bring <country-region w:st="on">Israel</country-region> into compliance and to bring <country-region w:st="on"><place w:st="on">Israel</country-region> into the rule of law and not the rule of the jungle,” Mansour said.

<country-region w:st="on"><place w:st="on">Meanwhile, Israel</country-region> has warned that the ground offensive could take many days however human rights campaigner Bianca Jagger said the UN should intervene.

“It is the UN Security Council failure to give a clear message to <country-region w:st="on"><place w:st="on">Israel</country-region> that they had to abide by international law. That they are accountable that they cannot act with impunity is appalling and shocking,” Jagger said.