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On Sunday, with the ground cover of Israeli tanks, and the air support of Israeli war planes, Israeli ground forces advanced deep into the Gaza Strip, but are facing strong resistance on the part of resistance fighters as they near Gaza City. 24 More Palestinians have so far been killed in Sunday’s clashes, increasing the death toll amongst Palestinians to 879 on the 16th day of Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip, Al Jazeera reports.
The Israeli Air Force carried out several more air raids across Gaza, hitting several targets in southern, and southeastern areas of the coastal region, as well as in the northern Beit Lahia and northwestern Jabalya.
There are rumors that the Israeli Security Council has been discussing the possibility of extending “Operation Cast Lead” into “Phase III” of its implementation, a move that would see Israeli ground troops attempt a further push into the Gaza Strip.
Al Jazeera reports that Israeli leaders have stated that the leadership in Israel does not want to go to “Phase III”, stating that the military leadership was hoping to complete their military goals after “Phase II”.
"They were hoping to meet their military aims after phase one and two, achieving the mechanism they want in Gaza and stopping weapons smuggling from Egypt.” An Al Jazeera reporter stated on the outskirts of the Gaza Israel border. “But [Israel] feels their objectives have not been met yet. Phase three could be very dangerous for the Israeli soldiers. Hamas knows the territories very well and are preparing for the urban battle.”
Israeli leaders are apparently under a lot of internal pressure from their constituent as there is widespread support for furthering the offensive amongst most Israeli citizens. With elections on the horizon, this factor may play a big role on Israel’s decision to move on to “Phase II”, or to roll out the so-called “end game” of the military offensive which has thus far claimed the lives of at least 879 Palestinians, including more than 200 children.
Israeli leadership is holding a meeting today to decide on their course of action.
Attacks continued throughout Saturday night as Israeli tanks and infantry units moved deeper into southwest Gaza City, exchanging fire with Palestinian resistance fighters.
Israel claimed that their military resources shelled about 60 targets throughout Gaza over night, hitting weapons depots, tunnels and a mosque.
Palestinian medics reported that at least four Palestinians were killed, and dozens of others wounded.
Three Palestinian rockets were fired into Israel, two hitting the southern city of Beer'sheva. No injuries have been reported.
More than 3,700 Palestinians have been wounded since the beginning of the Israeli offensive. A total of 13 Israelis have been killed during the same 16-day period, including three civilians hit by rockets fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel.
As innocent civilians are killed from Israeli “precision targeting”, many Gazans are left with no safe place to flee from Israeli rockets and heavy artillery. Recent reports from humanitarian organizations inside Gaza report that Israel has been using white phosphorus artillery shells, which the use of in densely populated areas, such as the Gaza Strip, are illegal according to international humanitarian law.
Yesterday, 40 Palestinians were killed and many more injured after hiding from the Israeli offensive in a UN school, designated by Israel as a safe house. Israel claims that two Palestinians were firing rockets form the building, alleging that resistance fighters were using their fellow Palestinians as human shields. Israel has made the same claim for every civilian target it has hit, yet has thus far offered no evidence to prove these claims to the international community. Perhaps they are saving such evidence for a war crime tribunal that may be held at a future date, when the hostilities finally come to an end.
It’s important to note that Israel had made the same claims throughout its 2006 bombardment and destruction of Lebanon when it was engaged in a war with Hezbollah. Despite Israel’s claim that Hezbollah was using Lebanese civilians as human shields, every human rights organization that made inquiries into the issue, concluded that Israel’s assertions in this regard were patently false; they were lies, clearly intended to boost Israel’s public relations campaign.
Israel uses many forms of psychological warfare in order to instill fear into the innocent population of Gaza. Israeli Apache helicopters frequently drop fliers into civilian areas, warning the Gazans of an impending and imminent air strike or ground force invasion. The Israeli command structure know full well that these citizens, quite literally, have nowhere to run as nearly every type of civilian infrastructure has been hit in the last 16 days, including police stations, mosques, university campuses, ambulances, television stations, and just recently, a UN school that was designated, by Israel, as a safe house for Gazans fleeing the horror and inhumanity of the war.
Of course, when Israel kills innocent civilians, it blames it on Hamas, citing the human shield lie, which has been proven in independent human rights inquiries to be false. Western media sources have decided to leave certain pertinent facts, such as this one, out of their news coverage of the dire predicament in Gaza.
Another commonly omitted fact is the Israeli annulment of the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire on November 4th when the Israeli Air Force hit many targets inside Gaza. Western media sources are parroting a lie, claiming that Hamas broke the ceasefire.
Also, many Western media outlets feel that it’s necessary to keep a narrow focus of the conflict by failing to mention the 18-month-long siege on Gaza, leading up to the Israeli offensive, that had left Gaza in a literal humanitarian crisis, before Israel even dropped its first bomb on December 27th. These news outlets want the Western world to think of Gazans as animals and/or "terrorists", rather than dignified people who have been fighting for their freedom amidst a brutal military occupation that has gotten more and more brutal over the past 42 years, reaching its climax in brutality in recent weeks with the current military offensive that is brutalizing a civilian population, already broken from decades of Israeli aggression and international ignorance.