Israeli ground troops move into Gaza

Israel Defense Forces official says troops now on the ground in Hamas-ruled territory.

Published January 3, 2009 6:55PM (EST)

In an escalation of the conflict in Gaza, Israel Defense Forces say that their ground troops are now moving into the Hamas-ruled territory, according to CNN.

"We have just a short while ago launched the second stage of the operation against Hamas infrastructure," IDF spokeswoman Maj. Avital Leibovich told the news network. Earlier Saturday, Israel began using ground artillery for the first time in the eight-day-old conflict when tanks fired into Gaza from the northern and eastern borders. Saturday morning, Israeli forces dropped thousands of leaflets signed by the commander of the Israeli military warning residents to "leave the area immediately" to ensure their safety.

While president-elect Barack Obama avoided the topic of the conflict in his weekly address, President Bush focused on it in his address: "This recent outburst of violence was instigated by Hamas -- a Palestinian terrorist group supported by Iran and Syria that calls for Israel's destruction," the President said.

UPDATE: The United Nations Security Council has scheduled emergency consultations to address the escalating conflict in Gaza, according to the Associated Press. Soon after the ground invasion began, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said: "This will not be easy and it will not be short," according to the AP.

By Salon Staff

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