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Israel seizes parts of Gaza; death toll 507

CNN
Jan 05, 2009 at 07:19pm IST

Gaza City: Israeli troops gained control of parts of northern Gaza on Sunday, less than 24 hours after launching a ground incursion into the Palestinian territory, according to Palestinian security sources.

The ground push has resulted in mounting casualties in Gaza where more than 500 Palestinians have been killed over the past week, according to Palestinian medical sources.

On Sunday, an Israeli soldier was killed and another was seriously wounded near Jabalya in northern Gaza, according to the Israeli military. It marks the first military death since the ground operation was launched Saturday night.

DEATH TOLL MOUNTS: Palestinian medical sources say more than 500 Palestinians have been killed in a week.

Israeli forces killed three senior members of Hamas' military wing on Sunday - including one near Jabalya - Hamas sources told CNN. The other two were killed in an airstrike in southern Gaza, the sources said.

Palestinian medical sources say Israeli forces have killed 37 Palestinians - both civilians and militants - since moving into the territory on Saturday night. With those deaths, the sources said 507 Palestinians have been killed over the past week, including at least 100 women and children. In addition, 2,600 Palestinians have been injured, most of them civilians, the sources said.

Most of the casualties are a result of the week-long airstrikes that preceded Saturday night's ground incursion.

Gaza's main hospital, already overloaded with Palestinians wounded in the week-long Israeli air assault, reached critical mass on Sunday, according to a Norwegian doctor volunteering at Shifa Hospital.

"We've had a steady stream (of patients) every day, but the last 24 hours has (been) about triple the number of cases," Dr Erik Fosse told CNN. "So this day has been extremely busy."

The Israeli military on Sunday continued its air assault on the Palestinian territory.

Housam Hamdan and Mohammed Hilou - both senior members of the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades - were killed in an airstrike in Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, Hamas sources said.

The Israeli military said it was targeting the two senior Hamas members but gave no indication of their status. Israel Defense Forces said Hamdan was responsible for firing longer-range Grad rockets into Beer Sheva and Ofakim in southern Israel. IDF said Hilou was a commander of Hamas special forces in Khan Yunis and also was responsible for

launching long-range rocket attacks at Israel.

Hamas sources said Israeli forces in Jabalya killed Mohammed Shalpokh, a member of Hamas commando forces which Israel blames for launching rockets from northern Gaza. The Israeli military said Israeli missiles on Sunday targeted 45 Hamas locations overnight, including the Hamas intelligence headquarters. During the day, the Israeli Air Force attacked more than 15 targets, including the three senior Hamas members, as well as rocket launching sites and squads, armed gunmen, and a smuggling tunnel.

The Israeli military said the ground incursion is the second phase of the operation to stop militants from firing rockets and mortars into southern Israel.

Four Israelis - one soldier and three civilians - have been killed in the ongoing rocket strikes, Israeli officials said.

At least 30 rockets were launched from Gaza into southern Israel on Sunday - including 12 Grad rockets - the IDF said. One Israeli was slightly wounded when a rocket landed in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod, according to Israeli ambulance services.

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