The first full day of fighting in the Gaza Strip continues tonight, as thousands of Israeli troops continue to move deeper into the tiny, populous enclave. Though the soldiers have yet to enter any major urban areas, they have encountered resistance and firefights have been reported throughout the area. As Israeli artillery fire continues, the troops have effective cut the strip in half, and have sealed off the densely populated Gaza City from the rest of the strip.
“This is not going to be a school trip,” Israeli military spokesman General Avi Benayahu insisted, as his government continues to rebuff international pressure to bring the attack to a swift end. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni angrily rejected an attempt by the Russian government to broker a ceasefire by facilitating communications with Hamas. At a press conference later, Livni declared that while she didn’t expect the rest of the world to share in the attack on the Gaza Strip, she did expect them to provide the support and time to accomplish their increasingly nebulous mission.
At least 34 Israeli soldiers have been wounded in the attacks so far. The number of Hamas casualties is unknown, as is the toll to Gaza’s civilian populace, though individual reports suggest Israeli tank shells have killed or wounded dozens of children.
Though the ground invasion was sold to the Israeli public and international community as necessary to stop rocket fire, it so far has actually led to an increase. Hamas fired around 50 rockets into Israel today, lightly wounding four people. While the government continues to defend the invasion as “inevitable,” questions still remain about how it ever envisions the war to end.