Israeli infantry soldiers walk in formation on the border as they leave Israel for the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday.
Israeli forces crossed into Gaza on Saturday night, launching ground attacks and seriously ratcheting up the Israeli-Palestinian conflict following a week of bombardment from intensive airstrikes. The United Nations Security Council met that evening in New York about the mounting Mideast crisis.
The New York Times:
The ground campaign brought new risks and the prospect of significantly higher casualties on both sides in a conflict that, even before the ground war started, had already taken the lives of more than 430 Palestinians and four Israelis.
While a ground campaign in densely populated Gaza is likely to increase the civilian death toll there, the Israeli Army also faces new threats. Hamas has had 18 months since Israel withdrew from the territory to smuggle in more lethal weapons against tanks and troops. Its more sophisticated arsenal has been on display over the last weeks, as it has launched scores of longer range rockets from Gaza into Israeli cities.
Israeli officials said they want to strike a hard blow against Hamas, improve Israeli deterrence and significantly change the security situation in southern Israel, where residents have been plagued by rocket fire out of Gaza for years.