Israeli tanks, bulldozers move into Gaza
By IBRAHIM BARZAK, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 40 minutes ago
KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip - Israeli tanks and bulldozers backed by attack aircraft moved into the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday, killing four militants in the widest operation in the territory since Islamic Hamas forces wrested control in June.If you're Palestinian, and you're dead in Gaza, then you're a militant.
The violence took place on the eve of the first formal peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians since early 2001.
The Israeli military described it as a routine operation "against the terror infrastructure" in Gaza. Palestinian officials accused Israel of trying to sabotage the peace talks. (Accompanied by a photo of a tank seen in the distance, amid rubble.)
In Tuesday's operation, tanks and bulldozers pushed about a mile into southern Gaza on the main road between the towns of Khan Younis and Rafah, and deployed over a 2.5 mile-stretch of territory.
Residents and Hamas security forces said at least 30 tanks and bulldozers took part in the operation, but the military said 10 tanks were sent in.
Since the Hamas takeover, Israel has carried out frequent airstrikes and ground incursions into Gaza in response to Palestinian rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli border communities. Israel considers Hamas a terrorist group and holds it responsible for all attacks launched from Gaza.
At the same time, Israel has been pursuing a peace agreement with the rival Palestinian government of President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank.
Among Israel's targets Tuesday was a multistory building that suffered heavy damage. Amid the rubble, at least two militants lay dead, including one man whose body was torn in half by a blast.
As rescuers pulled the bodies away, two Israeli shells struck the building seconds apart, sending people scrambling for cover. The body of a third man lay motionless after the blast.
The incident was filmed by Associated Press Television News. An AP cameraman and several other journalists at the scene suffered minor injuries and shock.
For some reason, I think the calm rhetoric would be quite different, and the photo illustration would be far more provocative if the story-- instead of reporting this Israeli escalation of violence in Gaza--were reporting a Palestinian suicide bombing which killed four Israelis at a check-point, don't you?