Jan 4 (Reuters) - Israeli tanks and infantry battled Hamas fighters in the Gaza Strip on Sunday in a ground offensive launched after eight days of deadly air strikes failed to halt the Islamist group’s rocket attacks on Israel.
At least 33 Palestinians have been killed, most of them civilians, since the incursion began late on Saturday. The Israeli army reported 30 soldiers were wounded in fighting, two of them seriously.
Following are developments in the fighting as of 1230 GMT:
GAZA - A column of Israeli tanks, backed by aircraft, pushed through the Gaza Strip to the territory’s coast road. The Israeli forces took control of the strip’s main north-south arteries, effectively cutting it in half.
GAZA CITY - Israeli ground forces clashed with Palestinian militants in the outskirts of Gaza City and encircled the city and its 500,000 residents.
SDEROT, Israel - Gaza militants fired more than 30 rockets into southern Israel on Sunday, one of them hitting a house in the town of Sderot. Two people were lightly injured.
KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza - An Israeli air strike in southern Gaza critically wounded senior Hamas military commander Jihad Hamdan.
GAZA CITY - Israeli shellfire killed at least five Palestinian civilians and wounded 40 in Gaza City’s main shopping area.
GAZA - Hamas said it captured two Israeli soldiers during fighting in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli army said it had no knowledge of any of its soldiers being captured.
TEL AVIV - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he told Israel’s defence establishment to be ready for any fighting that might break out on other fronts while its forces are operating in the south.
QALQILYA, West Bank - Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian man during clashes in the occupied West Bank with a crowd throwing stones and protesting against Israel’s Gaza offensive. (Jerusalem Newsroom)