INSTANT VIEW - Israeli troops launch ground attack in Gaza
LONDON (Reuters) - Israeli tanks and infantry battled Hamas fighters in the Gaza Strip on Sunday in a ground offensive launched after eight days of deadly air strikes failed to halt the Islamist group's rocket attacks on Israel.
Following are comments from politicians and commentators:
BRITISH PRIME MINISTER GORDON BROWN:
"What we've got to do ... is work harder than we've done for an immediate cease-fire. The Israelis must have some assurance that there are no rocket attacks coming into Israel," Brown told
CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN:
"China is seriously concerned with the escalating situation in the Gaza area," spokesman Qin Gang said. China urges the parties to stop military action and armed conflict immediately to prevent civilian casualties and take steps to ease humanitarian difficulties in Gaza, Xinhua news agency said.
IRANIAN PARLIAMENT SPEAKER ALI LARIJANI:
"The Zionists faced the powerful resistance of the zealous Palestinians ... the Zionists should know that Gaza will become their graveyard."
"Egypt condemns in the strongest possible terms the beginning of Israel's ground operations in the Gaza Strip and the invasion of the territory by its forces. Egypt ... calls upon Israel to end its aggression immediately and without preconditions, and calls upon the United Nations Security Council and Quartet to swiftly fulfil their responsibility without delay to end the Israeli aggression."
ISRAELI DEFENCE MINISTER EHUD BARAK:
"It won't be easy. It won't be short."
MAJOR AVITAL LEIBOVITCH, ISRAELI MILITARY SPOKESWOMAN:
"The objective is to destroy the Hamas terror infrastructure in the area of operations."
HAMAS OFFICIAL ISMAIL RADWAN:
"We have prepared the statement of victory for you (Palestinians) ... and you will see it soon." Addressing Israeli soldiers, he said: "Gaza will not be a picnic. Gaza will be a graveyard for you."
ABU UBAIDA, HAMAS'S ARMED WING SPOKESMAN:
"The Zionist enemy must know his battle in Gaza is a losing one."
ALEJANDRO WOLFF - U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.:
"I don't think it does the council any good ... to issue statements that aren't going to be observed. Israel's self-defence is not negotiable."
STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN SEAN MCCORMACK
The U.S. State Department has told Israel's government that military action must be "mindful of the potential consequences to civilians." Washington is "deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation" in Gaza, but said Hamas holds the people of Gaza hostage. "It is obvious that that cease-fire should take place as soon as possible, but we need a cease-fire that is durable, sustainable, and not time limited."
U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON:
Ban told Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert by telephone of his "extreme concerns and disappointment," and asked that Israel ensure the safety of civilians and allow humanitarian assistance to reach those in need. He urged regional and international partners to "exert all possible influence to bring about an immediate end to the bloodshed and suffering."
(Writing by Sami Aboudi; editing by Tim Pearce)
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