Jan. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Israeli forces moved into the Gaza Strip, broadening an offensive against Hamas aimed at forcing the Islamist Palestinian group to stop firing rockets at the Jewish state’s southern cities.
“A few hours ago Israeli forces went into Gaza as part of the ongoing operation there. From the beginning, I said that the operation would be broadened as necessary, and now it is necessary,” Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said last night in a televised press conference from Tel Aviv.
Infantry, tanks, engineering forces, artillery and intelligence units are taking part in the ground offensive, backed by the air force, navy and other security agencies, the army said. A naval blockade was imposed at 20 nautical miles off the Gaza shore, it added.
The ground offensive is likely to increase casualties on both sides, with Israel running the risk of finding itself in a quagmire with no easy exit strategy and facing increased international pressure to call a cease-fire. The operation comes after Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said on Channel Two that Israel was “determined” to meet the goals of the operation against Hamas.
“The objective of this phase of the operation is to intensify the heavy blow already dealt to Hamas and to take control of area from where most of the rocket attacks against Israel originate,” Israel Army spokesman Brigadier-General Avi Benayahu said in an e-mailed statement.
This could get real ugly, Obama will have his hands full.