Israel Pushes Into Gaza City as UN Chief Heads to Region

Gaza City,Israel (RushPRnews) 01/13/09-Israeli troops fought fierce street battles with Palestinian militants in Gaza City Tuesday, as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon travels to the Middle East to press for an immediate cease-fire.Israeli ground forces, backed by helicopter gunships pushed into Gaza City’s densely-populated Tel al-Hawa neighborhood, but have yet to move on the center of the territory’s largest city.

The Israeli military says its warplanes attacked more than 60 targets overnight, including rocket launching sites, weapons storage facilities, Hamas command posts and tunnels used to smuggle weapons across the Egyptian border.

Palestinian medical workers say the airstrikes killed at least 12 people. In all, more than 900 Palestinians and at least 13 Israelis have died during the 18 day conflict.

Mr. Ban will discuss the crisis with leaders in Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Kuwait. He said he will press both sides to accept a Security Council resolution passed last week demanding an immediate cease-fire.

Both Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas have ignored the call for an end to the violence.

A Hamas delegation will resume talks in Cairo Tuesday with Egyptian intelligence officials on a possible cease-fire agreement. The radical group is demanding a withdrawal of all Israeli forces from Gaza and an end to its blockade of the territory under any truce agreement.

Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi, the chief of staff of Israel’s armed forces, told lawmakers Tuesday the military has dealt a severe blow to Hamas forces and the militant group’s infrastructure. But he says the job is still not finished.

Aid agencies are delivering limited amounts of food and other essentials, after stopping last week because of the danger posed by the Israeli offensive. Gazans are suffering severe shortages of water, power and food.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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