Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Israeli PM Olmert may send army to topple Hamas in Gaza

WASHINGTON, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Israel stepped up its bombing campaign against major Hamas centers in Gaza Tuesday as prospects grew that heavy ground forces might be sent in to topple the extreme Islamist regime there.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert described the intense air bombardment -- the heaviest Israel has taken against any targets in Gaza since the 1967 Six Day War 41 years ago, as only "the first of several stages" of military action. That raised the possibility that the Israelis might send in heavy ground forces to complete the job of either wiping out Hamas or forcing its cadres to flee Gaza, where they violently seized power in 2007.

"The government is determined to remove the threat of fire on the south. Therefore the Israeli army must not stop the operation before breaking the will of Palestinians, of Hamas, to continue to fire at Israel," Olmert said Tuesday at a discussion with Israeli President Shimon Peres.
According to U.N. estimates, 290 Hamas officials or troops and another 60 civilians have been killed so far. The Israelis continued to target Hamas installations including an office complex. The Israeli navy massed warships to cut off Gaza from the sea. Reports said electric power had been lost in Gaza, where 1.4 million people live.

Hamas fired another 10 rockets into Israel injuring one person in the development town of Sderot, which has been targeted by Hamas rockets over the past year and a half.
Israeli Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit said on Israel Radio Tuesday: "There is no room for a cease-fire."

The Israeli airstrikes entered their fourth day with no indication that they were either decreasing in intensity or would stop soon. It remained unclear -- apparently as a deliberate act of Israeli policy -- whether Israel would limit itself to airstrikes or would escalate to a full-scale ground invasion.

Israel too would suffer significant military casualties in any major ground operations to oust Hamas from control of the Gaza Strip, one of the most densely populated urban enclaves on Earth. However, the Israeli army has had more successful experience of urban war than any other army in the world in recent decades.

You can read the entire report at this link: Army

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