Israeli Army Moves Into Gaza City

Soldiers exchange gunfire with Hamas fighters on capital's streets
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 5, 2009 6:08 AM CST
An Israeli infantry soldier is seen on the border before entering the Gaza Strip from Israel on a combat mission, Sunday, Jan. 4, 2009.   (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
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(Newser) – The Israeli army moved into Gaza City for the first time this morning, fighting gun battles in the streets with Hamas militants. The Guardian reports that Israeli soldiers were making house-by-house sweeps for fighters associated with Hamas. This morning Ehud Barak, the defense minister, said that Israel would continue to fight until it had achieved "peace and tranquility" in the country's south, which is still enduring daily rocket and mortar attacks.

At least 12 civilians were killed this morning, according to Palestinian medical officials. Reports suggested that the heaviest fighting was taking place east of Gaza City, where three Palestinian children were killed by a tank shell. French president Nicolas Sarkozy will arrive in the region today and call for a ceasefire, but neither side seems likely to accept one; Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar urged his fighters to "crush your enemy" and suggested mounting attacks on Israeli targets overseas.