Israel threatens ground assualts in Gaza


Israel warned on Sunday it could send ground troops into Gaza as its warplanes again pounded Hamas targets in the enclave where more than 280 Palestinians have been killed in less than two days.

Hamas responded by firing rockets the deepest yet into Israel, with one hitting without causing casualties not far from Ashdod, home to Israel's second-largest port some 30 kilometres (18 miles) north of Gaza, medics said.

In the latest plea for the violence to end, Pope Benedict XVI implored the international community to do "all it can to help the Israelis and Palestinians on this dead-end road... and not to give in to the perverse logic of confrontation and violence but to favour the path of dialogue and negotiations."

But Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak vowed to expand the mammoth bombing campaign, unleashed in retaliation for ongoing militant rocket fire.

"The IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) will expand and deepen its operations in Gaza as much as necessary," he told reporters before a cabinet meeting.

"If it's necessary to deploy ground forces to defend our citizens, we will do so," his spokesman quoted him as saying earlier.

The cabinet gave the green light to call up 6,500 reserve soldiers, a senior official told reporters after the meeting.


CNN reports that the Palestinian representative in the US has asked the UN to order a halt to the attacks, but was rebuffed. The reality is that the Fatah faction of Palestinians likes the attacks regardless of what its spokesman say. Their rival is being destroyed and that is in their interests.

The Israeli attack appears to be well thought out and comprehensive in its scope unlike the somewhat ad hoc approach used against Hezballah in 2006. The Israels are also using a more sophisticated media campaign this time. It was one of their greatest weaknesses in 2006.


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