Sunday, January 04, 2009

tribal violence continues to escalate...,

Guardian | Israel last night dramatically escalated its war with Hamas, sending troops and tanks pouring over Gaza's borders in a move designed to reoccupy parts of the northern Gaza Strip. Amid reports of fierce clashes inside Gaza, columns of military vehicles and what the army said was "a sizeable number of troops" moved across the border at several points, backed by an intense air and artillery bombardment.

The move followed the failure of a week-long air force offensive, which has claimed more than 460 Palestinian lives, to halt the Hamas rockets. More than 30 hit Israel yesterday, wounding three people. Israel's defence minister, Ehud Barak, said his country was a peace-loving nation but Hamas had given it no choice and brought the assault on the Palestinian people. "Now is the time to do what needs to be done," he said. "It won't be easy. It won't be short. I don't want to delude anyone." The government in Jerusalem ordered the call-up of tens of thousands of reservists, suggesting the operation will be expanded further. The army said it expected to be in Gaza "for many long days".

France last night was swift to condemn the invasion, which it described as a dangerous military escalation that "complicated efforts by the international community to end the fighting, bring immediate aid to civilians and reach a permanent ceasefire". In London the foreign secretary David Miliband said the intensification of the Israeli assault would cause "alarm and dismay" and renewed calls for a swift cessation of violence. The UN Security Council also scheduled an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis, as the EU troika prepared to visit the region tomorrow.