Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, pictured last month, condemned the “savage aggression” of the Israeli assault and said Israel’s “bloodstained hands are stirring up feelings of enormous anger.” But Mubarak also accused Hamas of bringing on the carnage by refusing to renew the truce. (Sameh Sherif / AFP/Getty Images)
“We warned [Hamas] repeatedly that rejecting the truce would push Israel to aggression against Gaza” Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak
“We have prepared for you, Zionists, thousands of tough fighters who are waiting for you in every street, every alley and at every house, and they will meet you with iron and fire.” Hamas spokesman Abu Ubaida
Military analysts believe Israeli forces would be severely challenged by combat in Gaza’s congested casbahs and alleyways, where much of their air support would be irrelevant and where Palestinian gunmen would be able to mount hit-and-run ambushes.
Conquering Gaza could amount to a reoccupation of a territory the Jewish state captured from Egypt in a 1967 war and quit in 2005. Israeli leaders have said they do not want to reoccupy Gaza or, for now, to topple the Islamist Hamas group.
Seven Israeli soldiers have died in an offensive that has killed more than 640 Palestinians, at least a quarter of them civilians, medics said. Palestinian rockets, the stated reason for Israel’s assault, have killed four Israeli civilians.
Israel said its troops had killed 130 guerrillas since Saturday, a figure that suggested the total Palestinian death toll since Dec. 27 might be close to 770 and that bodies could still be on the battlefield.
According to one Israeli source with knowledge of the security cabinet’s discussions, the initial ground sweep was executed well but the military top brass was disappointed by what they saw as relatively little Palestinian resistance.
“The assumption was that our forces could draw out the enemy into open areas where they could be eliminated, but they didn’t come out in the number we expected,” the source said. “Taking the fight into the populated areas would be much tougher.”
Hamas spokesman Abu Ubaida said in a speech on Monday: “We have prepared for you, Zionists, thousands of tough fighters who are waiting for you in every street, every alley and at every house, and they will meet you with iron and fire.”
UNITED NATIONS, Jan 7 (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged Israel on Wednesday to seriously consider an Egyptian ceasefire proposal as the U.N. Security Council weighed action to end Israel’s attack on Gaza.
Rice spoke by telephone on Wednesday to Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and was to meet Arab ministers as well as her French and British counterparts at the United Nations.
“We are trying to move forward here on a lot of different fronts,” said a senior U.S. official traveling with Rice, who planned to stay in New York to push the diplomatic efforts.
“We are supportive of the Mubarak initiative … we are saying (to the Israelis) that it is an effort worth working on,” he added, referring to the plan offered by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to end the 12-day Israeli offensive to suppress Hamas rocket fire against its citizens.
In an emotional speech, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urged the Security Council on Wednesday to back Mubarak’s plan.
“Do not let one more Palestinian mother cry for her children,” he said. “Put an end to the massacre of my people, let my people live and let my people be free.”
Egypt said on Tuesday it was proposing an immediate truce between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza, to be followed by talks on long-term border arrangements and an end to the Israeli blockade of Gaza.
Israel said it viewed talks on the proposal “positively” but stopped short of accepting Egypt‘s plan.
President-elect Barack Obama says he is deeply concerned about the latest surge of violence in the Palestinian-Israeli crisis and he’s committed to working towards peace after he takes office. (Jan. 7 )
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