Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Invasion of Gaza Strip commences

Israeli troops and tanks have moved into southern Gaza after diplomatic talks failed to secure the release of a soldier abducted by Palestinian fighters. An Israeli army spokesman confirmed the incursion that occured early on Wednesday shortly after Palestinian security forces stationed near the border town of Rafah said they were ordered to leave by the Israelis.
The offensive followed air strikes overnight that took out three strategic bridges and hit the main power station, causing a huge fire and plunging Gaza City into darkness. The deployment seems to be the start of a major Israeli incursion into the territory to supposedly recover 19 year-old Corporal Gilad Shalit who was captured on Sunday in an attack that left two other soldiers dead.
Tensions have been high ever since with large numbers of Israeli troops deployed to the border and on Monday Olmert promisied a punitive strike if Shalit was not freed. Meanwhile, in a phone call to AFP, the armed Palestinian group the Popular Resistance Committees threatened to kill a Jewish settler it claims to have kidnapped, unless Israel stopped the offensive.


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