Israel mobilizes navy units off Gaza coast

Israel's three Dolphin Class submarines were designed by Ingenieurkontor Lubeck Prof Gabler Nachf GmbH (IKL), a subsidiary of Howaldtswerke-Deutche Werft AG (HDW) based in Lubeck, Germany. (photo @naval-technology)

Sat, 03 Jan 2009 14:32:19 GMT -- Israel has reportedly mobilized its navy units near the Gaza Strip amid speculations that a ground offensive is imminent.

Witnesses reported the presence of an Israeli warship and a submarine off the coast of Gaza on Saturday.

During the last week, Israeli gunboats have been joining warplanes in pounding targets across the populated area.

More than a hundred houses have been demolished since the beginning of the Israeli operation against the region.

The report came while Hamas says it has repelled an Israeli patrol near the Gaza border amid reports that Israeli navy units are approaching the costal enclave.

The military wing of Hamas announced the incident in a statement saying the patrol was attempting to enter the Gaza Strip.

A spokesman said that no Israeli soldiers had crossed into Gaza since the beginning of Operation Cast Lead on December 27.

On Saturday Abu Zakariya al-Jamal, a senior Hamas commander, was died of wounds sustained in an Israeli overnight raid on his residence.

Palestinians responded with a barrage of rockets against Israeli targets including Israel's second largest port city, Ashkelon.

Israeli attacks have so far left more than 440 killed and over 2,280 wounded in the Gaza Strip.

The UN says at least 25 percent of the victims of Israel's military attack have been civilians.

Rights groups, however, put the figure at almost 40 percent.

Hamas has warned Israel against any ground offensive signaling that the second phase of Operation Cast Lead which could be a ground offensive would not be an easy task. (SB/DA @PRESS TV)

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