Ground operation could last two weeks
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- Israeli officials say the ground operation that began late yesterday in the Gaza Strip could last up to two weeks. And the prime minister is telling the military to prepare for a "significantly" wider campaign.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his Cabinet today that the tunnels that are being used to infiltrate Israel can't just be dealt with from the air.
Some hard-liners in Israel want their military to completely crush Hamas and drive it from power in Gaza.
Israel's military says it's killed nearly 20 militants in exchanges of fire, while one Israeli soldier has been killed. Gaza health officials say more than 50 Palestinians have been killed since the ground operation began and 299 since Israel launched the offensive with airstrikes 11 days ago. U.N. says one-fifth of those killed are children.
Palestinians threaten legal action against Israel
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The Palestinian U.N. ambassador is threatening to go to U.N. and international courts which would likely include the International Criminal Court if the Security Council doesn't act to protect Palestinian civilians from Israeli attack and end the conflict in Gaza.
Riyad Mansour told an emergency meeting of the council Friday that Israel's "savage" aggression into Gaza "cannot be justified by any means."
"It is not self-defense," he said. "It is a vengeful military aggression intentionally planned and perpetrated by the occupying power on the civilian population under its occupation."
Mansour said the Israeli campaign is designed to destroy "Palestinian unity and collapse of the national consensus government."
A U.N. official said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will leave Saturday for the Middle East to help mediate the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israel's military says a soldier has been killed in a ground operation in the Gaza Strip. The circumstances of his death were not immediately clear.
Israel's chief military spokesman Brig. Gen. Motti Almoz told Israeli Army Radio "we are checking the circumstances" behind the soldier's death.
It was the first military casualty since Israel announced the start of a ground operation into Gaza late Thursday.
Friday is the 11th day of fighting between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers.
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- The heavy thud of tank shells is echoing across the Gaza Strip as Friday's dawn approaches.
Thousands of Israeli soldiers backed by tanks have rolled into the Palestinian territory in a ground invasion aimed at destroying Hamas' rocket-firing abilities and the tunnels militants use to infiltrate Israel.
With flares lighting the night sky, the wail of ambulance sirens mixed with the Muslim call to prayer from mosque loudspeakers before dawn.
Thick smoke is rising from sites where shells and missiles struck. An official in the Gaza security operations room says, "there is a tank shell every minute" and all of the seaside strip's border areas are being shelled. He says Hamas fighters have been exchanging fire with Israeli troops near a town in northern Gaza.
Gaza health officials say eight Palestinians have been killed in the early stages of the Israeli ground operation. Palestinian health officials say more than 240 Palestinians died in Israel's 10-day air campaign that preceded the invasion.
One Israeli has also been killed in the fighting.
Palestinian UN envoy hopes for cease-fire soon
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The Palestinian United Nations envoy says he hopes "a very intensive negotiation" in Cairo might produce a cease-fire "in the hours to come" between Israel and Hamas.
Ambassador Riyad Mansour said in an interview with The Associated Press soon after Israel was reported to have launched a ground invasion into Gaza late Thursday that it "would increase and compound the number of casualties to a very exponential level."
He said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with leaders from Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Egypt and other many others and he understood that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was on his way to Egypt.
"We hope that an agreement and cease-fire to take place as quickly as possible before shedding the blood of one additional single Palestinian soul," Mansour said.
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- The Israeli military says it has launched a ground offensive in Gaza.
The army said in a statement late Thursday that after 10 days of Hamas attacks, it has "initiated a ground operation within the Gaza Strip."
The army says the objective is to strike a "significant blow to Hamas' terror infrastructure."
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- Violence is expected to intensify after the Islamic militant group Hamas rejected an Egyptian truce plan and instead unleashed more rocket barrages on Israel.
In an address aired live on TV, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that after Hamas' rejection of the truce, Israel had "no choice" but to respond more forcefully. He said "Hamas chose to continue fighting and will pay the price for that decision."
Israel resumed its heavy bombardment of Gaza on Tuesday.
The military is urging residents of northern and eastern Gaza to leave their homes by Wednesday morning, presumably a prelude to air strikes there.
Rocket fire killed an Israeli man Tuesday, the first Israeli fatality in eight days of fighting. In Gaza, Palestinian officials say 197 people have been killed and close to 1,500 wounded so far.
The Egyptian proposal, initially accepted by Israel, had been the first attempt to end the fighting.
Hamas doesn't consider Egypt's current rulers to be fair brokers after they deposed a government that was friendly to Hamas.