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Middle East

Israel attacks Gaza via sea, air, land: civilians killed

Article published on the 2009-01-04 Latest update 2009-01-04 10:47 TU

Palestinians react beside bodies in Shifa hospital in Gaza(Credit: Reuters)

Palestinians react beside bodies in Shifa hospital in Gaza
(Credit: Reuters)

Israel launched a ground offensive at 1830 UT on Saturday as tanks and troops entered the Gaza Strip. Dozens of families have fled south of Gaza City and reports indicate that 19 civilians have been killed, bringing the death tally to 485, according to Gaza medics. Reports indicate that air strikes took place thoughout the night. The troops took control of major roads as they pushed deeper into the urban areas and have taken the coastal road.

Doctors from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have tried to get into the territory for the past two days and have been refused by Israeli authorities, according to a statement posted on their website.

The team, which consists of four specialists led by an experienced war surgeon, have been trying to get in to help the staff of Shifa hospital.

Al-Jazeera, the pan-Arab  television channel, reports that people are being treated for serious injuries even on the floor of Shifa hospital and that there is not enough space to take incoming wounded, who are walking the streets looking for help.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday that Tel Aviv will not allow a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

"We will help supply food and medicine" for the territory, he said.

On the diplomatic front, the United Nations Security council held an emergency meeting on Saturday night. Ambassadors emerged after nearly four-hour closed door consultations, but failed to agree on a statement calling for an immediate cease-fire.

"The efforts we are making internationally are designed to establish a sustainable, durable ceasefire that's respected by all," said US dpeuty ambassador to the UN Alejandro Wolff. The US is seen as Israel's closest ally in the council.

UN General Assembly President Miguel d'Escoto of Nicaragua called the Israeli incursion "a monstrosity."

"And once again, the world is watching in dismay the dysfunctionality of the Security Council," he added.