Israel army launches Gaza assault

The Israeli army has begun a ground offensive in southern Gaza to try to gain the release of an Israeli soldier.

The incursion comes hours after Israeli aircraft struck at bridges and a power plant in the Gaza Strip.

Cpl Gilad Shalit was abducted by Palestinian militants during a raid on an Israeli post near Gaza on Sunday.

Israel had warned of a massive military assault if he was not freed and its tanks have been massing along the border with Gaza for several days.

What an appalling spectacle.

Israel rounds up Hamas politicians
Israeli forces arrested more than 60 Hamas politicians in the West Bank and bombed targets in the Gaza Strip today to increase pressure on Palestinian militants to release an Israeli soldier held captive since Sunday.

There were no casualties in the Israeli attacks but a confrontation between the army and Palestinian factions became more likely as Israeli forces prepared to enter areas of northern Gaza.

Israel reoccupied areas of southern Gaza yesterday and bombed bridges and an electricity plant to force Palestinian militants to free the abducted soldier. The electricity supply for half of Gaza has been cut and all supplies of fuel and food have been halted.

Palestinian fighters have prepared bombs and barricades in anticipation of the army’s advance into populated areas. Corporal Gilad Shilat was captured by gunmen from Hamas and the Popular Resistance Committees on Sunday. His captors want to exchange him for Palestinian prisoners but Israel insists it will not negotiate for the freedom of the 19-year-old.

After a separate kidnapping, soldiers discovered the body of Eliyahu Asheri, 18, in a shallow grave near Ramallah. He was abducted on Sunday as he hitchhiked through the West Bank.

Militants of the Popular Resistance Committees involved in the kidnapping of Corp Shilat said Asheri would be killed if Israel did not halt its invasion of Gaza. The Israeli army said he was probably killed soon after his abduction.

If he’s dead he can’t very well be released. There is no one in the world to stand up to these pathological bullies. How many people have they kidnapped, tortured, and murdered? How many more?

Israeli Planes Buzz Home of Syria Leader
DAMASCUS, Syria Israel said its warplanes buzzed the summer residence of President Bashar Assad Wednesday in a bold warning to the country that shelters the political leader of Hamas, the Islamic militant group holding an Israeli soldier captive in the Gaza Strip.

State-run Syrian television, in its account of the incident, said two Israeli planes flew near Syria’s Mediterranean coast early Wednesday and “national air defenses opened fire in the direction of the planes, and they dispersed.” Assad’s summer residence is in the western city of Latakia on the Mediterranean coast.

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