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News number: 8710241282

15:33 | 2009-01-13


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Israeli Tanks Retreating from Gaza City

TEHRAN (FNA)- Israeli tanks are moving out of the densely-populated Gaza City on Tuesday after intense street battles with Palestinian resistance fighters.

Tel Aviv intensified its operations against the Palestinians early Tuesday, rolling its tanks further into Gaza City - home to 1.5 million Palestinians.

Israeli tanks advanced into the neighborhoods of Ash Sheikh Ajlin, Zeitoun and Tal al-Hawa as the Israeli offensive as the war on Gaza enter its 18th day.

The tanks were backed by helicopter gunships and naval fire and had come under mortar and RPG fire by the Palestinian Hamas, press tv reported.

Hamas says its fighters had detonated explosives beneath Israeli armor to prevent further advancement and force them to withdraw from the area.

Witnesses say explosions and the din of heavy machine gun fire echoed continuously before dawn.

Israeli tanks, however, are now moving out of Ash Sheikh Ajlin and Tal al-Hawa. Tel Aviv has reportedly resorted to launching airstrikes on the impoverished city instead.

This comes after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday lashed out at Israel and the Hamas, urging them to immediately stop fighting in Gaza.

"The fighting must stop. To both sides, I say, 'Just stop now'. Too many people have died," said Ban.

Tel Aviv launched air and sea operations against the Gaza Strip on December 27 and has since escalated its offensive into a violent ground operation.

The Israeli onslaught has far claimed the lives of at least 940 Palestinians and left nearly 4,400 others wounded.

A total of 33 Israeli soldiers have also been killed and 80 others injured in the attack.

The recent Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the latest of a series which began when world powers created Israel in 1948 under the Zionist slogan of a 'land without a people and a people without a land'.

The establishment of Israel in the Middle East was carried out in compensation for the hardships and suffering imposed on the Jews of Europe due to anti-Semitism in the continent.

Zionists benefited by gaining power over the native land of the Palestinians, but the establishment and the subsequent terror attacks against the Palestinian population gave rise to the philosophy of resistance and in recent years armed retaliation.

According to Tel Aviv, the current war on Gaza is aimed at ending rocket attacks against Israeli settlers, toppling Hamas and preventing the resistance group from rearming.

The democratically-elected ruler of the strip Hamas, however, also has demands. It wants the cessation of the Israeli attacks and the opening of the Gaza border -- which has been closed due to the 18-month blockade imposed on the strip by Tel Aviv.