Israel Advances Cautiously in Ground Op

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ISRAEL-GAZA BORDER - Israeli forces are moving cautiously in their war on Hamas, knowing that the casualties will grow in the dense northern Gaza neighborhoods.

Friendly fire incidents Monday killed four Israeli soldiers and wounded two dozen more. But Israel's defense forces reportedly killed at least 100 from the Hamas military wing.

Click play to watch CBN News Mideast Bureau Chief Chris Mitchell's report followed by an interview with Jonathan Peled, a spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Knesset members Monday that the army is making progress here in the field, but he also warned that the most difficult times for the operation could lie ahead.

Despite the military success, 40 rockets pounded a wide area of Israel around the Gaza Strip on Monday, and more rockets are falling today. One wounded a three-month-old baby.

"Israel wants to see quiet to returned to the south, but it must be remembered that Hamas exploited the previous arrangements just to double the range of their rockets from 20 kilometers to a 40 kilometer range, striking deep inside Israel" said Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev.

"Any future arrangement," Regev explained, "has to prevent Hamas from continuing to rearm, to get stronger and longer range rockets. A vital ingredient is a total ban on any weapons entering the Gaza Strip."

While the military goes after the dwindling Hamas leadership, Israel has tough sledding in the United Nations, where there are hopes that a diplomatic effort will freeze Israel's gains and give Hamas a chance to survive.

"Our goal is an immediate ceasefire and that is what we'll want to take forward," British U.N. Ambassador John Sawyer said.

The U.N. claims 25 percent of the casualties in Gaza are civilians, but Israeli spokesmen say Israel goes further than any other army to avoid killing civilians.

Israel's demands for a cease-fire include a complete halt to rocket attacks, international monitors of any truce agreement and an end to any rearming of Hamas.

Meanwhile, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak said Monday Hamas must not be allowed to win in Gaza.

Mubarak fears Hamas ties to Egypt's Muslim brotherhood will destabilize his nation.

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Chris Mitchell and John Waage

Chris Mitchell and John Waage

CBN News Jerusalem Bureau

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