Posted January. 05, 2009 03:00,
Israeli tanks and infantry soldiers have launched an all-out ground incursion into the Gaza Strip.
Under the guard of attack helicopters, Israeli ground forces marched across the border Saturday evening and moved into Gaza in four groups. They were met by Hamas fighters who fired bombs, resulting in heavy fighting.
Fifty Hamas fighters were killed and 30 Israelis were wounded, including two in critical condition, Israeli military sources said.
Israeli army spokesman Avital Leibovitz said, The goal of our army is to destroy the terrorist base of Hamas within the area of operation. We have gained control over several Hamas locations that were once used for firing rocket bombs.
After announcing that several thousand troops will be additionally mobilized for the ground offensive Saturday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said, This operation will not end soon, and it will not be easy.
Hamas chief spokesman Ismail Radwan said in a televised speech that Hamas will fight until its last breath, warning Israel that Gaza will be your cemetery.
The global community has stepped up to mediate a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.
According to a United Nations statement, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to express his concerns and disappointment while urging an immediate suspension of hostilities.
French Ambassador to the United Nations Jean-Maurice Ripert said the U.N. Security Council failed to adopt a declaration on an immediate ceasefire, citing opposition from several countries including the United States in an emergency meeting.