Day 10: Ground offensive continues amid media blackout

At least 12 Palestinian civilians were killed on Monday as Israel continued its ground offensive in the Gaza Strip for a second day. Some 530 Palestinians have been killed and more than 2,500 Palestinians wounded since Operation Cast Lead began ten days ago. More than 80 deaths have been reported in the ground offensive and, according to a UN agency, a quarter of the deaths have been civilians.
Palestinians pray over the bodies of people killed in an Israeli missile strike in Beit Lahiya. © Fadi Adwan/AP

BEIRUT, January 4, 2008 (MENASSAT) — Overnight and Monday morning air raids were reported in open fields in east Jabaliya, Beit Lahiya and in the Shati refugee camp as the Israeli ground offensive in the Gaza Strip entered its second full day. The Israeli air force struck some 30 targets overnight.

Among the dozen or so reported deaths was a family of seven in the Shati refugee camp, including five children who were killed by coastal shelling from the Israeli navy. The family is reported to have bled to death because ambulances could not reach their home, the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza said.

Emergency medical workers and ambulances have been struggling to reach the front lines. An Israeli air raid killed four paramedics on Sunday and ambulances have also been hit in the attacks, Palestinian sources reported.

The attack at Shati refugee camp, on the outskirts of Gaza City, followed a separate shelling which killed three children and their mother.

Israeli sources say more than 4,000 infantry are now inside Gaza, backed by dozens of tank units. Army forces have entered deep into the Gaza Strip along two axis: between the Karni crossing and the beach front highway, and in the area between Khan Yunis and Rafah, in the south, effectively cutting the strip in three parts.
Israeli soldier confirmed killed

Clashes between Israeli forces and Hamas continued early Monday in Beit Lahiya and Beit Hanoun in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. One Israeli soldier has been confirmed killed so far east of Gaza City, with at least 55 wounded in Gaza since Saturday, including four who remain in serious condition.

The Israeli army began to call up tens of thousands of reservists on Sunday, who are expected to undergo training at bases for possible deployment into the Gaza Strip.

"Fighting east of Gaza City is complex. We are faced with pretty sophisticated fighters, who set up a complex system of defenses," Israeli military sources told Haaretz.

The armed wing of Hamas and other armed Palestinian factions have continued to launch rockets into southern Israel, including towns and cities like Ashkelon, Ashdod, Beersheba, and Sderot as well as towns in the western Negev. Four Israelis have been killed by Palestinian rockets.

A rocket hit an Ashdod store Sunday afternoon, lightly wounding a woman and causing serious property damage. Two Israelis were also lightly injured when a Qassam hit a chicken farm in the same region.

Also Sunday, 11 rockets hit Sderot and one rocket hit an open area near Ashkelon, causing no injuries or damage.

Media blackout

Despite the 400 to 500 foreign journalists currently in Israel, the Israeli military has closed the Gaza Strip entirely to the press, making Sderot the main communications hub since Saturday night.

Contrary to the open policy that was in place during the 2006 war on Lebanon, and despite a ruling by Israel's Supreme Court on December 31, ordering the government to allow the international media into Gaza, Israel has closed the border completely since it began bombing the besieged Palestinian territory on December 27.

Earlier this week the Israeli army agreed to allow eight journalists into Gaza itself, but sources in the Foreign Press Association say that since the decision the crossings have not opened.

Reporting from Gaza has been limited to those journalists who were already in the Strip before the assault began, or local media outlets.

"There are masses of requests," Noam Katz, director of public relations at the Foreign Ministry told Haaretz. "A reporter from CNN stands there and protests the state's decision on the air."

Israel began the media ban early November, when its six-month ceasefire with Hamas completely unraveled. However, the ban was eventually lifted after the Foreign Press Association (FPA) in Israel petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court, and editors from a number of foreign media outlets sent a letter of protest to the Israeli government.

Israel says that it has implemented this ban to prevent something happening to foreign correspondents that could hinder Israel's operations. 

The army has also accused reporters of violating military censorship rules. Israeli media reported that on Saturday night an arrest order was issued for a foreign reporter working for an Iranian TV network who reported an army incursion into Gaza before the military authorized the release of the information to the public.

For more from MENASSAT reporters covering the unfolding events in Gaza:

ANALYSIS: A broader look at the recent Gaza attacks
Posted on 31/12/2008 - 13:03
With the end of the Israeli military offensive on Gaza nowhere in sight, MENASSAT looks at what is truly at stake with this military offensive. Is this the end of Arab resistance to military aggression or just the end of Hamas? GAZA RESISTANCE OR NOT

Gaza protests increase in EU countries
Posted on 05/01/2009 - 13:00
As European Union delegations poured into the Middle East today to try and broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, protests in the European Union countries have escalated. MENASSAT’s correspondent Alexandra Sandels covered the protest actions in Stockholm.

stockholm gaza protest 
Local radio stations on the front line
Posted on 03/01/2009 - 17:48
With electricity becoming a rare commodity in Gaza strip, and Israel's relentless air assaults over the last seven days, an older media form gains momentum, serving as the primary news source for the Strip's residents. Menassat's Olfat Haddad writes about local radio stations and their role in reporting the war on Gaza - a role that will become increasingly important as Israeli ground troops move into northern the Gaza Strip.

War planes help usher in the New Year
Posted on 03/01/2009 - 00:35
With the smell of death, and the scene of destruction, Gazans bid farewell to 2008. Some 434 people have died and more than 2,200 have been injured since Israel's aerial bombardment began on December 27. These numbers are anticipated to rise, as Israeli leaders have stated that this is only the beginning of "Operation Cast Lead." MENASSAT’s Olfat Haddad gives us a glimpse of what Gazans are wishing for in 2009.
new year gaza