Troops step up operations in Gaza

Thursday, July 06, 2006 |  by Staff Writer
Israeli ground troops entered northern Gaza on Thursday after a second Kassam rocket landed in the Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon. Eight were treated for shock, including four children. Terrorists have reached new heights with their ability to travel further distances attacking Israeli cities.

Israel began to create buffer zones making it difficult for terrorists to move about the Gaza Strip as they attempt to take Kassam launching bases out of range of Israeli cities. Troops in tanks have rolled past the former Jewish communities of Dugit, Nitsanit and Elei Sinai, evacuated last summer, and are approaching the Beit Hanoun and Jebaliya refugee camps, but have not entered yet.

“The goal of the operation is to target terror targets and bring the soldier [Gilad Shalit] and quiet back to the border,” Army Spokesman Captain Jacob Dallal told Israel Today.

The military operation’s main goals are to stop rocket attacks from landing in Israel, and to put pressure on Hamas to release abducted soldier Gilad Shalit.

Hamas stressed that they would not release the soldier. Dr. Moussa Abu Marzouk said, “Hamas will not release the soldier without an exchange. Israel wants to solve the problem – there is no solution except for a diplomatic and political solution.”

Overnight, Israeli forces attacked a Fatah building and routes in the southern Gaza Strip aiming to prevent the transport around or out of Gaza of kidnapped Corporal Shalit.

“Our presence there doesn't mean that we intend to remain in the Gaza Strip,” Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer told Army Radio on Thursday. “We simply want to prevent firing at our towns.”

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