Gaza Ground War: Day One

  • Share
  • Read Later
Khalil Hamra / AP

Smoke caused by explosions rises over Gaza City

Almost 24 hours into Israel's ground offensive in Gaza, Israeli military officials say they are ahead of schedule in achieving such objectives as securing positions on the clear ground around the main urban areas, especially Gaza City, in the north of the Gaza Strip. At the same time, they are receiving an early taste of the guerrilla tactics, including kidnapping attempts, that Israeli soldiers most fear.

Four Israeli brigades — a tank brigade and three infantry brigades reinforced by extra tanks and other armored vehicles — entered Gaza on Saturday night and have now cordoned the region into four or five sections. Gaza City is surrounded and cut off from the rest of the territory. (Read "Israel Enters Gaza: Negotiating with Extreme Prejudice.")

Israeli military officials tell TIME that one soldier was killed and some 30 Israelis were wounded. Half the injuries were the result of an Israeli mine-clearing operation that went awry. Other soldiers were hurt in mortar fire from Hamas militants. Palestinian sources say 30 locals have been killed since the beginning of the ground offensive on Jan. 3. That brings the death toll to 485 Palestinians and four Israelis since Dec. 27, when Israel began its aerial strikes in an effort to deter militants from launching more missiles into southern Israel. (See pictures of the beginning of Israel's ground invasion of Gaza.)

Early signs indicate that the military may have achieved that objective, at least temporarily. Although mortar fire rained on the advancing Israeli troops in the first few hours of the ground offensive, the number of rockets launched into Israel dropped drastically, to just 20 or so in the past day.

Israeli commanders have emphasized to Israel's foot soldiers that kidnapping will likely be a key Palestinian tactic during any ground war. Early on Sunday in the Sajaiya neighborhood on the eastern outskirts of Gaza City, two Israeli privates from the Golani Infantry Brigade were briefly detained by Hamas militants who apparently surprised them from behind by popping up through a tunnel. The Israelis got away, and the Palestinians also escaped. Details are sketchy, but a senior Israeli military official said the incident was under investigation.

See pictures of life under Hamas in Gaza.

  1. Previous
  2. 1
  3. 2