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Israel broadens Gaza offensive
Cat : Israel and Zionism
Date : 2006-07-08 17:18:34                      Reader : 302
American Congress and House of Representative are enemies of Palestinians. They are supporting war with all means. We appeal American nation to put an end to new cons and Pro-Israelite in Legeslative power as well as in White House.

We appreciate highly Swiss, Turkish, EU and others who were shocked by Israel terrorism as well as violation of international laws.

Associated France Press 8/7/2006
Israel broadens Gaza offensive
by Sakher Abu El Oun
GAZA CITY (AFP) - Israeli forces have advanced toward Gaza City, killing four Palestinians, security sources said, as troops stepped up a campaign to halt Palestinian rocket attacks and secure the release of a captured soldier.
Dozens of tanks backed by helicopter gunships and drones passed through the Karni and Nahal Oz crossings, advancing one kilometer (half a mile) to neighborhoods on the outskirts of Gaza City where clashes broke out with armed Palestinians.
Armored vehicles fired missiles Saturday, killing a member of the Palestinian security forces in Zeitun, while three more Palestinians were reported killed by Israeli tank shelling in the nearby Shujaya neighborhood.
Israeli armored vehicles took up positions in open farmland on Gaza's eastern border and assembled in industrial areas.
A security official at the Karni industrial zone next to the crossing told AFP that four tanks had blocked off the area where goods are stored.
Israeli units meanwhile pulled back from northern Gaza, three days after launching a deadly incursion in the area, Israeli and Palestinian sources said.
Israeli forces could be seen withdrawing to a security zone, a thin strip of no-man's land on the northern border of Gaza that was established after        Israel withdrew from the territory 10 months ago, Palestinian witnesses and security sources said.
Hamas militants were swift to claim victory after the pullback.
"The Israeli soldier is still missing and we are firing twice as many rockets as before the operation," crowed Abu Obayda, a spokesman for Hamas's armed wing, addressing a press conference surrounded by masked militants carrying Kalashnikovs and rocket propelled grenades.
An Israeli army spokesman described Saturday's operation near Gaza City as "limited" and aimed at uncovering "tunnels and explosive devices in the area."
He said there had been an "Israeli air force attack against a tunnel used to smuggle weapons" this morning but added that "there is no operation in populated areas."
Thirty-six Palestinians and one Israeli soldier have been killed since Israel launched a massive military operation in Gaza late Wednesday aimed at suppressing rocket attacks and freeing a captured soldier.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has called on the international community to stop Israel's "inhumane aggression" to give mediators a chance to free the soldier, Corporal Gilad Shalit, whose capture by Palestinian militants sparked the escalation 12 days ago.
He said the continued Israeli offensive was hindering Palestinian efforts together with "Arab parties, particularly Egypt" to return the soldier to his family.
"They still believe an agreement is possible," he said.
UN chief        Kofi Annan called for an immediate halt to what he called Israel's "disproportionate use of force" but added that Palestinian militants should nonetheless release the captured soldier.
"These measures are an absolute prerequisite for defusing the tensions which are escalating every day," Annan insisted.
On Thursday, Israel sent troops deep into the northern        Gaza Strip, occupying a buffer zone in the territory from which it withdrew last September.
Israel has vowed to use everything in its power to increase the pressure on the embattled Hamas-led government to free 19-year-old Shalit and to stop rocket attacks.
Hamas -- whose government offices have been targets of Israeli missile strikes -- warned that the assault was complicating the fate of the captive Israeli soldier, who it said was being well looked after by his captors.
"Soldier Gilad is being well treated, in a humane manner in keeping with the values of our religion," said the movement, whose armed wing claimed joint responsibility for the June 25 attack on an army post in which Shalit was seized.
"Continued Zionist crimes will only harden the Palestinian side even more," it warned.
But Israel flatly ruled out any negotiations for the soldier's release with a group that still advocates armed struggle against the Jewish state.
"I have just spoken to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and our position remains unchanged: we refuse to negotiate with Hamas and (Palestinian) prisoners will not be released," Interior Minister Roni Bar-On told public television.
The UN Security Council debated a draft resolution demanding Israel withdraw from Gaza immediately and release detained Palestinian officials, although the United States, Israel's closest ally, described the text as "unbalanced".
Aid groups have expressed concern about the difficulties in providing assistance to 1.4 million people living in poverty-stricken Gaza following months of financial crisis and the suspension of direct Western aid to the Hamas-led government.

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