GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – Israeli tanks and troops entered southern Gaza and planes attacked three bridges and knocked out electricity to the coastal strip early Wednesday, stepping up the pressure on Palestinian militants holding captive a 19-year-old Israeli soldier.
The ground troops and tanks began taking up positions in two locations east of the Gaza town of Rafah under the cover of tank shells, according to witnesses and Palestinian security officials. Palestinians dug in behind walls and sand embankments, bracing for a major Israeli offensive.
The Israeli strikes came amid intensive diplomatic efforts in the Arab world and by the United Nations. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged Israel to “give diplomacy a chance.”
Right. Afterall, diplomacy has been known to work wonders with Islamofascists.
Trying to defuse building tensions, negotiators from the ruling Hamas movement said Tuesday they had accepted a document implicitly recognizing Israel. But two Syrian-based Hamas leaders denied a final deal had been reached.
Israel said only freedom for the captive soldier, Cpl. Gilad Shalit, could defuse the crisis, not a political agreement.
The Israeli military said in a statement that the object of the attacks on the bridges was “to impair the ability of the terrorists to transfer the kidnapped soldier.” Knocking down the bridges cut Gaza in two, Palestinian security officials said.
Early Wednesday, Israeli planes fired at least nine missiles at Gaza’s only power station, cutting electricity to much of the Gaza Strip, Palestinian security officials said. The station’s three functioning turbines and a gasoline reservoir were engulfed in enormous flames that firefighters were unable to control.
Right now it’s just bridges and electricity, but my money is on Israel stepping it up even more very soon in response to the capture of Shalit.
Read more via Malkin, who has a link roundup.
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