Israel began moving tanks to the Gaza area in advance of a possible ground attack.Like many of you, I want to see a day when war and bloodshed cease, when a great peace will embrace the whole world. As long as terrorist groups like Hamas exist, that's not going to happen.
The movement of tanks and ground troops on Saturday night followed a massive retaliatory Israeli bombing campaign that has killed close to 200 people in the Gaza Strip, most of them Hamas militants.
The wave of air-launched bombs Saturday was in retaliation for the recent intensification of rocket-launches from Gaza, which is controlled by the Hamas terrorist group. On some days, more than 50 rockets have been aimed at towns and farms in southern Israel.
Militants in Gaza responded by firing at least 30 rockets; one killed an Israeli resident of the town of Netivot. Hamas reported that almost all of its security installations were hit and threatened suicide attacks in retaliation.
Israel dropped at least 100 tons of bombs in the raids. "There is a time for calm and there is a time for fighting, and now is the time for fighting," Ehud Barak, the Israeli defense minister, said in a news conference.
Reports from Gaza said most of the dead were affiliated with the security forces, including Gaza City's police chief, although a number of the casualties were civilians. Hamas officials said at least 140 of the dead belonged to the terrorist group's militias.
I support my fellow Israeli brethren and the Israeli Defense Forces at this time and ask that G-d be with them.
The United States blamed Hamas for breaking the ceasefire.
The United States blamed Hamas for breaking a ceasefire and provoking Israeli air strikes on Saturday that killed more than 200 people in Gaza, which is controlled by the Palestinian group.Haaretz reported that most bases were destroyed in under four minutes.
Washington did not call for an end to the Israeli attacks but urged it to avoid civilian casualties and placed the onus for ending the violence squarely on Hamas, which it considers a terrorist organization.
"What we've got to see is Hamas stop firing rockets into Israel, that's what precipitated this," said White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe, calling the Islamic group "thugs."
The United States has worked to isolate Hamas since it won a Palestinian parliamentary election in January 2006.
Israeli officials said the assault on the Gaza Strip in pursuit of Hamas may last some time.[...]
The air strikes followed a decision by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's security cabinet to widen reprisals for Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel.[...]
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressed concern about the escalating violence and called for immediate restoration of the ceasefire. "We strongly condemn the repeated rocket and mortar attacks against Israel and hold Hamas responsible for breaking the ceasefire and for the renewal of violence there," she said in a statement.
In an apparent warning to minimize the risk to civilians, Rice said, "the United States calls on all concerned to protect innocent lives and to address the urgent humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza."
Preparations nearly two years in the making were put into action yesterday as a two-wave offensive of 88 Israel Air Force fighter jets and helicopters delivered over 100 tons of explosives to approximately 100 Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip.