Israeli forces began a ground invasion of Gaza last night, Thursday. Tanks and infantry units crossed into northern Gaza, supported by heavy bombing.
They killed at least 11 Palestinians overnight, including one five month old baby, with the death toll rising to 27 by Friday afternoon.
The bulk of the Gaza strip was also thrown into darkness as Israel cut off the electricity before going in.
Apache helicopters, drones and F16s attacked from the air, gunboats launched bombs from the sea and tanks fired from just outside the border.
At the time of writing one Israeli soldier has been killed, though reports suggest that this was as a result of friendly fire.
The ground invasion is the first since January 2009, when some 1,400 Palestinians were killed.
Israeli leaders claim that the ground offensive is aimed at destroying tunnels used by Palestinian fighters. Last night 13 of them managed to enter southern Israel using one of these tunnels before being stopped by bombing from Israeli aircraft.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even claimed today that Israel’s was a “moral army” and that “We do not want to harm even one innocent civilian. Not even one.”
But more than 260 Palestinians have been killed since Israel began what it calls “Operation Protective Edge”—at least 80 per cent of whom are civilians. This is in addition to more than 2,000 Palestinians who have been wounded.
This is far from an even contest. Israel is the fourth military power in the world and Gaza does not have an army or navy.
Gaza has been under siege since 2007 with Israel controlling its land, sea and air borders.
Israel and its supporters have made much of a shortlived “humanitarian” ceasefire proposed by Egypt on Tuesday. It offered nothing to the people of Gaza but effective surrender.
Hamas, the Islamist faction that runs Gaza since elections in 2006, demanded and end to the siege of Gaza, an opening of the borders and the release of political prisoners who were freed in a prisoner exchange but recently rearrested.
Hamas leader Khaled Meshal said, “We won't accept an agreement that prolongs the suffering of our people anymore. In Gaza, for the past seven years of siege, its 1.8 million people have been living in a prison.”
The people of Gaza are defiant in the face of Israeli terror, but they need solidarity. Mass demonstrations are taking place around the world on a daily basis, with large turnouts expected on the streets of London and Glasgow tomorrow.
National demonstrations, Saturday 19 July
London—assemble 12 noon, Downing Street
Glasgow—assemble 1pm, Buchanan Street
For further information including transport details go to palestinecampaign.org and stopwar.org.uk