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Israeli toops surround Gaza city

By Xinhua,

Beijing : After launching a ground offensive late on Saturday, Israeli troops are now deep into the Gaza Strip. They’ve now surrounded Gaza City.

But Hamas militants remain defiant, still firing rockets into Israel and also threatening a fresh wave of suicide attacks.

Initially via air, then from the sea, and now on land. Israel is pressing on with its ground offensive against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

On Sunday, its troops and tanks cut swaths through the coastal territory, dividing it into two.

Gaza officials say at least 31 civilians have been killed since the start of the ground war.

The new campaign focused on northern Gaza, but incursions have also been made in the south. An Israeli armored force penetrated as far as the abandoned settlement of Netzarim, one of several communities left behind by Israel when it pulled out of Gaza in 2005.

The Israeli military says its troops have killed several dozen Hamas militants, but Gaza officials would confirm only four dead.

One Israeli soldier was killed on Sunday, the first Israeli death since the ground offensive began.

Israel’s Prime Minister defended his country’s actions, saying it had no choice but to attack the Gaza Strip.

Ehud Olmert, Israeli Prime Minister, said, “The ground operation is part of the overall operation and is meant to establish our desire to change the security situation in the south.”

Hamas, however, is showing no signs of softening its stance. It threatened to resume suicide attacks inside Israel.

Hamed Bitawi, Hamas Spokesman, said, “We predict that, God willing, Gaza will become a graveyard for the Israeli army. The Israelis might be successful, with their airplanes and tanks and bombardments, but they can never break the will and strength of the Palestinian people.”

The death toll in Gaza has now surpassed 500. The UN says among these, over a hundred were civilians.