Invasion of Gaza City: Street Battles as Troops Close in on the Centre

Article excerpt

ISRAELI forces pushed deeper into Gaza City today amid reports of some of the fiercest fighting so far in its war against Hamas.

Israeli tanks rolled into densely populated parts of the city as flashes of light lit up the sky.

There were repeated explosions and the sound of heavy machinegun fire as Israeli troops advanced before dawn in a bid to secure more key sites in the city.

The push into the Tel Hawwa neighbourhood took Israel's ground forces within one mile of the crowded city centre.

At the same time, there were claims by Hamas denied by Israel that it had destroyed two Israeli tanks, while the militant group also proclaimed that it was "approaching victory" in the conflict. "After 17 days of this foolish conflict, Gaza has not been broken and Gaza will not collapse," the Hamas leader Ismail Haniya said in a broadcast from a secret location.

The renewed clashes came as an Israeli army patrol on the country's border with Jordan came under fire from gunmen in an attack, which will heighten fears about the wider regional impact of the Gaza offensive. …