The last few foreigners have been allowed to leave Gaza, with an all-out Israeli assault believed to be imminent. Hundreds of tanks and ground troops are massed outside the enclave; air raids continued overnight but reports from the border suggested they were fewer than yesterday, which may indicate a ground invasion could happen at any time.
Hamas rockets continue to target southern Israel despite President Bush denouncing them as an act of terror, and warning no ceasefire can happen until they stop. The United Nations is the only international aid agency still operating in Gaza. It says the situation is desperate: “The protection of civilians, the fabric of Gaza, the future of the peace process and regional stability are all trapped between the irresponsibility of Hamas rocket attacks and the excessiveness of Israel’s response,” warned UN Middle East envoy Robert H. Serry. More than 420 Palestinians have died in a week of bombing against four Israelis, but Hamas has refused to back down. From Damascus, its exiled leader Khaled Meshaal promised Israel would be defeated if it invaded Gaza. He also criticised President-elect Obama and America for failing to criticise or stop Israel’s attacks.