Thousands of Israeli troops poured across the border into the Gaza Strip today, escalating a war that began a week ago today when Israeli plane began a series of air strikes that killed over 450 Gazans and wounded thousands of others.
Independent reports of the situation on the ground were difficult to come by as Israel maintained its ban on journalists entering or even getting near the strip. Still, witnesses report heavy fighting as tanks rolled into northern Gaza and ground troops met stiff resistance from militants.
Both sides claimed early success… Israeli forces say they have killed “dozens” of Hamas members during the invasion, and Hamas has also claimed to have killed a group of the Israeli invaders. So far no reports are available on the civilian toll, which was already significant during “phase one” of the attacks.
The long-promised invasion spurred protests worldwide, drawing thousands of people from Toronto to Melbourne. Even in Tel Aviv thousands took to the streets against the invasion. Though occasionally descending into a shouting match with a competing pro-war rally, the march ended peacefully.
It also brought condemnation from a wide array of world leaders, though the invasion did appear to have support from both the Bush Administration and the Czech government, which recently took over the European Union presidency. President-elect Obama, as he has since the war began, declined comment.