[<< wikinews] Israel begins ground assault on Gaza Strip
Saturday, January 3, 2009 

The Israeli military has confirmed that their troops have began a ground assault on the Gaza Strip. The assault also includes tanks and more air assaults, according to a statement issued by the Israeli government. For several days, the Israeli military had been massing over 10,000 troops and equipment along the Israel-Gaza border, in what was believed to be a preparation for a ground invasion.
"A short while ago IDF forces (Israeli Defense Forces) began to implement the second stage of Operation Cast Lead. Land forces have begun to maneuver within the Gaza Strip. The objective of this stage is to destroy the terrorist infrastructure of the Hamas in the area of operation, while taking control of some of rocket launching area used by the Hamas, in order to greatly reduce the quantity of rockets fired at Israel and Israeli civilians," said a spokesman for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement on their website. The Israeli military began a massive air assault on Hamas forces and government officials several days before troops entered the Strip.
Reports state that Israeli forces are engaging in gun battles with Hamas troops as they enter the city. Hamas had warned Israel that any invasion would be fought in a violent battle, which Israel states could take several days before the military operation is completed.
The IDF said that civilians are not its target, earlier dropping leaflets from the sky warning residents to leave the area immediately.
"Those who use civilians, the elderly, women and children as 'human shields' are responsible for any and all injury to the civilian population. Anyone who hides a terrorist or weapons in his house is considered a terrorist," added the statement.


== Sources ==
 "Israel drops leaflets over Gaza, demands residents to leave" — IBN, January 4, 2008
Ibrahim Barzak & Jason Keyser. "Israeli ground forces enter Gaza in escalation" — Associated Press, January 3, 2008
 "Second stage of Operation Cast Lead begins" — Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, January 3, 2008
AP. "Israeli ground forces enter Gaza in escalation" — WTVM, January 3, 2008
 "Israel begins Gaza ground offensive" — Al Jazeera, January 3, 2008
 "Israel Ground Assault Begins" — WGN, January 4, 2008
Amos Harel, Yoav Stern and Yanir Yagana, Haaretz Correspondents, and News Agencies. "ISRAEL SENDS GROUND TROOPS INTO GAZA" —  January 4, 2008