AS it has vowed, the Palestinian resistance was waiting for the Israeli occupation soldiers to foil their aggression, killing nine of them and wounding dozens others, according to Ezz-eddine Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing.
Hamas resistance fighters also said they have destroyed an Israeli Merkava with a B-29bomb.
Hamas announced it had captured two Israeli soldiers, an event which, for Israel, would highlight the political risk domestically of sending its troops into Gaza. A spokesman for Hamas’ armed wing said Israeli troops faced certain death or capture. ‘The Zionist enemy must know his battle in Gaza is a lost one for them,’ spokesman Abu Ubaida said.
Islamic Jihad’s Quds Brigades spokesman, Abu Ahmad, said that fierce fighting is taking place on all Gaza fronts. ‘The enemy has fallen into the trap, it’s where we want it to be. The occupation army sought to divide Gaza into two to scatter resistance fighters, however this move has backfired and what happened is the opposite.
‘Tanks have become an easy target for the fighters and rockets are being fired from behind resistance lines which means that the occupation army has failed to accomplish anything.
‘The enemy is seeking to cover its fiasco and its fighter jets have been bombing civilian regions and killing civilians to pressure the resistance. The losses in the Israeli army ranks are very big and perhaps the coming days or hours will uncover this fact.
‘Thousands of fighters are deployed at all fronts.
‘The only problem that is obstructing their move is the IAF, but still we are moving, firing rockets and inflicting losses on Israeli soldiers.’
Israeli defence officials said that top commanders were split over whether to send in ground forces because such an operation could lead to heavy casualties.
The Israeli occupation army admitted the killing of one of its soldiers, adding that 30 others were wounded, two of them seriously.
On Sunday, Israeli occupation troops tried to push deeper into Gaza and clashed in fierce battles with Hamas resistance fighters.
Explosions shook the northern Gaza Strip and thick black smoke billowed skywards as fighting raged in the largest Israeli military operation since the 2006 war in Lebanon.
A Palestinian resistance spokesman said Israel is intensifying its shelling in the Strip to cover its harsh defeat there.
Infantry and tanks were operating in Netzarim, just three kilometres (nearly two miles) south of Gaza City, the main population centre of the densely populated territory, witnesses said.
Heavy fighting was also reported north of Gaza City and outside the northern towns of Beit Lahiya, Beit Hanoun and Jabaliya.
The ground invasion followed a week of intense air and naval bombardment unleashed on the Gaza Strip on December 27. ‘Operation Cast Lead’ had killed at least 480 Palestinians, including 80 children, and wounded more than 2,300 others before the ground troops rolled in, according to Gaza medics.
Large numbers of Israeli occupation forces are taking part in this stage of the operation, including infantry, tanks, engineering forces, artillery and intelligence, with the support of the Israeli Air Force, Israeli navy, the Shin Bet security service and other security agencies.
The Israeli cabinet has also authorised an emergency call-up of tens of thousands of occupation reservists.
Ahead of an Israeli cabinet meeting on Sunday, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak told reporters that Israel would expand and intensify its offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip ‘as much as necessary’.
‘This operation won’t be easy and won’t be simple,’ he said. ‘The operation will be expanded and intensified as much as necessary. War is not a picnic.’
Analysts say that the mere deployment of tens of thousands of Israeli soldiers, with the help of the IAF, the navy and other security bodies, constitutes a failure for the Zionist entity that has been setting objectives for its war and then retreating from them. The last objective, according to an Israeli military spokeswoman was to control the area from where the Palestinian resistance is launching rockets. She also said that yet Hamas rockets will not fully stop. Israel’s first announced objective of the war was to simply crush the resistance group Hamas.
On Saturday morning, Israeli Radio quoted a spokesman for the Hamas military wing as saying it had repelled an attempt by Israeli occupation soldiers to infiltrate the Shajaiyeh section of Gaza City.
Hamas said that its resistance fighters detected the soldiers and fired six mortar shells. Hamas said the occupation soldiers reportedly opened fire and then returned to the occupied territory.
The heaviest fighting on Sunday, according to initial reports, appeared to be taking place in a ring round Gaza City.
Fighting was reported in the northern towns of Beit Hanoun, Beit Lahiya, and Jabaliya, near the former Israeli settlement Nitzarim, and in Gaza City neighbourhoods, including Zaytoun, At-Toufah, and Shajaiyeh.
Sunday’s developments are as follows:
By Sunday evening there were reports that Israeli troops were entering residential areas.
7:00pm: Medical officials confirm two are killed by an airstrike near a mosque in the Zaytoun neighbourhood of Gaza City.
6:30pm: Israeli warplanes bomb a money changer’s shop in Ar-Rimal, a neighbourhood of Gaza City. Two explosions were heard including one at Talateeni Street.
6:00pm: Two airstrikes kill three medics and wound another in Tal Al-Hawa, south of Gaza City.
5:00pm: An airstrike killed five Palestinians near a Mosque in Jabaliya.
4:45pm: An airstrike in At-Toufah, in Gaza City, killed a mother and four children.
4:00pm: Four children are among 10 civilians killed in airstrikes in Beit Layhia.
12:15pm: Israeli artillery hit a market area, killing at least five civilians and injuring more than 40.
11:45am: Israeli missiles targeted the Palestinian Ministry of Waqf and Religious Affairs in Gaza City, injuring several passers by.
11:30am: Israeli warplanes fired missiles at Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. Ambulances were seen speeding up towards the area.
11:15am An Israeli reconnaissance plane fired a missile at the Rafah home of senior DFLP leader Muhammad Abed Barbakh, killing him, his father Abed, his two brothers Mahdi and Yousef, and his nephew Musa Yousef. Barbakh was a leader in the National Resistance Brigades, the DFLP’s military arm. He lived in the An-Nahdah neighbourhood of Rafah.
11:00am: An-Nassar Salah Ad-Din activist died of wounds in a Saudi Arabian hospital.
Israeli forces breached Gaza borders at 10.00pm on Saturday evening and have been advancing ever since. Palestinian fighters clashed with the advancing army, reportedly injuring 30 Israeli soldiers.
East of Gaza City tanks entered Gaza through the Nahal Oz and Karni crossing points, they advanced and headed south of Gaza City and are currently stationed at the abandoned Israeli settlement of Netzarim. Tank fire killed three in the Shajaiyeh neighbourhood.
In Beit Hanoun in the north eastern Gaza Strip, tanks penetrated hundreds of metres, closing the main road between Beit Hanoun and Gaza City.
From the northwest, witnesses said Israeli forces reached the American school north of Beit Lahiya.
Forces killed two in Beit Lahiya. The school was levelled on Saturday by and Israeli airstrike.
From the south, tanks entered near the destroyed Yasser Arafat Airport, east of the city of Rafah, amid heavy artillery fire, killing one Palestinian fighter and injuring several others.
According to the under-secretary of the Palestinian Health Ministry, Hassan Khalaf, 514 Palestinians, including 107 children, have been confirmed dead since the start of Israel’s attacks on Gaza nine days ago. Some 2,450 have been injured.
Khalaf said that since the start of the ground invasion on Saturday night, 70 people, including 21 children and 11 women, have been killed. Three hundred and seventy-one have been injured.
Palestinian medical officials in Gaza said that the five members of the Bakkar family were blown to pieces when Israeli warplanes targeted their home in the At-Toufah neighbourhood of Gaza City. Medics also said that two of the children were one and two years old respectively. The ages of the other two were not determined.
Another four children were killed in the town of Beit Lahiya, in the north of the Gaza Strip, in a series of airstrikes during which ten civilians were killed and 30 injured. Earlier on Saturday, three children were killed in an airstrike in the city of Rafah in the south that targeted a Palestinian fighter.
Tank fire killed at least 18 Palestinians on Sunday, including 14 in Beit Lahiya and four in Beit Hanoun.
Israel escalated shelling in the Gaza Strip in recent hours as resistance fighters continue to confront Israeli tanks and ground troops who entered the Strip from four points.
The popular Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi issued a statement from his cell in an Israeli prison calling on Palestinians and the broader Arab and Muslim communities to engage in a ‘solidarity campaign’ to halt the Israeli offensive on Gaza
Barghouthi condemned the Israeli onslaught and praised Palestinians ‘steadfastness.’ He also expressed gratitude to the Palestinians in the West Bank, Jerusalem, inside Israel and the refugee camps in the diaspora, and the Arab and Islamic nations, for widespread demonstrations of solidarity with Gaza.
He also called on all Palestinian national and Islamic factions to unite, arguing that the Israeli invasion targets all Palestinians. He said that the Fatah movement is an integral part of the battle with Israel.
Specifically, he called on rival factions to enter into dialogue based on the National Unity Document, also known as the Prisoners’ Document, in which jailed Hamas and Fatah leaders called for a return to Palestinian political unity.