Excerpts from various news sources reporting on the ground assault on Gaza, with links to original articles provided. I've added the bold where the humanitarian consequences of the ground attack seem especially severe.

The Guardian, Monday 5 January 2009

Israeli tanks and troops seized control of large parts of the Gaza Strip yesterday, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee their homes as relentless artillery and gunfire killed at least 40 more civilians, including children. Some were killed when an Israeli shell hit Gaza City's central market.

The territory, home to 1.5 million Palestinians - more than half of whom are children - has effectively been divided south of Gaza City by the troops, who in some places have reached as far as the Mediterranean. There were also reports of a further division by Israeli troops to the north. Israeli forces were seen in southern Gaza, near the town of Rafah, along the Egyptian border.

Palestinians flooded in to the heart of Gaza City in the hope of finding shelter as Israeli forces fought Hamas in northern Gaza. But they faced a long and fearful night in darkness, lit only by the explosion of Israeli shells and flares, after Israel cut electricity to the enclave. The UN said all hospitals in the city, straining to deal with hundreds of wounded Palestinians over the past few days, had been without mains electricity for 48 hours and were depending on back-up generators, which were close to failing.

As the Palestinian death toll rose past 500 yesterday, there were growing international calls for a ceasefire, including from Gordon Brown. But with Hamas continuing to fire more than 30 rockets out of Gaza yesterday, Israel remained to determined to press ahead with its military campaign.

One Israeli soldier was killed near Jabalya in the first hours of the invasion. A further 32 were injured. A total of five Israelis - three civilians and two soldiers - have been killed since last Saturday when the Israeli campaign began.

Ox-Fam said the ground offensive is preventing urgently needed supplies of medicine, food, water, and fuel from reaching 1.5 million Palestinians. Prideaux-Brune said: "Hospitals in Gaza are overflowing with dead and wounded while facing severe shortages of essential medical supplies and spare parts."

Further evidence of the humanitarian crisis was provided by Gisha, an Israeli human rights group, which said 75% of the territory's electricity had been cut off. Gaza's sole power plant has been closed since Monday because no industrial diesel has been allowed in.

Gisha said 48 of Gaza's 130 water wells were not working because of the electricity shortages, leaving more than 500,000 people cut off from their water supply.

Diplomacy to end the conflict appeared to falter.Late on Saturday night, the US blocked a UN security council statement calling for an immediate ceasefire.

Israel continues to bar journalists from entering Gaza.


Severe damage to Gaza's phone network was pushing the territory closer to complete isolation. The Palestinian phone company Paltel Group said 90 percent of Gaza's cellular service was down, as well as many landlines, because of frequent power cuts and the inability of technicians to reach work sites.
GAZA CITY (CNN) -- Gaza's main hospital, already overloaded with Palestinians wounded in the week-long Israeli air assault, has reached critical mass, according to a Norwegian doctor volunteering at Shifa Hospital.

"The injured patients are mainly civilians, a lot of children with dreadful injuries," Dr. Erik Fosse told CNN on Monday, estimating that 20 percent of the more than 500 people dead were children.

"This figure is rising, and I think it has to do with the development of the war as it moves into the city," he added.

After a weeklong series of air strikes, Israel launched a ground assault Saturday night.

"We've had a steady stream (of patients) every day, but the last 24 hours has (been) about triple the number of cases," Fosse said late Sunday.

Fosse said he estimated that about 30 percent of the casualties at Shifa -- Gaza City's main hospital -- on Sunday were children, both among the dead and wounded.

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