CBNNews.com - GAZA STRIP - An IDF (Israel Defense Forces) Golani Brigades soldier died of injuries sustained during a mortar shell attack Sunday morning, which wounded 20 other troops, one critically.
First Sgt. Dvir Emanueloff, 22, of Givat Ze'ev, is the first Israeli soldier to be killed in the Gaza operation.
Fighting continues in the northern Gaza Strip, where IDF troops are battling Hamas gunmen firing mortar shells and a variety of explosive devices at close range.
More than 50 Hamas terrorists have been killed since the ground incursion began Saturday evening, the army reported.
By day's end, 33 IDF troops were injured, most light to moderately.
At Sunday's Cabinet meeting, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-General Gabi Ashkenazi told Cabinet ministers that the fighting is tough, but "not much is left of the Hamas government."
"I spoke with the brigade and regiment commanders on the ground, and I'm encouraged by their determination and willingness to complete the mission," Ashkenazi said.
"Hamas prefers fighting in constricted areas. The rocket fire till now is lower than expected, but Hamas still has the ability to fire rockets," he said, adding that the IDF expects the attacks to continue.
Military Intelligence chief Major-General Amos Yadlin told ministers that despite the terror group's bravado, it has "suffered a great blow."
"Hamas understands that violating the lull was a strategic mistake," Yadlin said.
"Dozens of [its] headquarters have been damaged, the ammunition warehouses and production infrastructure destroyed, and the ability to smuggle [weaponry] through the tunnels has been damaged," he said.
"The [Hamas] organization's leaders only care about themselves," the general said. "There is harsh criticism against them among the Palestinians, [which] they brought upon themselves," he said.
"Hamas has found itself isolated in a leper's alliance with Iran and Syria," Yadlin said.
At Sunday's meeting, ministers approved an emergency call up of tens of thousands of additional reservists.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni described the Gaza operation as "a war on terror and on its motivation to fire at the citizens of the State of Israel."
Rocket, Mortar Shell Fire Continues
Meanwhile, Palestinians fired 41 rockets and mortar shells on western Negev cities and towns Sunday, one landing near a school in the Sha'ar Hanegev region, causing no injuries or property damage.
Schools within a 25-mile range of Palestinian rocket fire remain closed.
Two people suffered shrapnel wounds from a mortar shell in the Eshkol region.
Rockets hit the southern Israeli cities of Sderot, Ashkelon and Ashod, damaging several buildings and sending numbers of people into shock.
A homeowner in Sderot was injured by a rocket that severely damaged her home. Four people were treated for shock in this attack.
In Ashdod, a rocket slammed into a warehouse, wounding one woman lightly.
Two people were injured by shrapnel when a Kassam exploded in a pasture in the Sha'ar Hanegev region.
'We Will Meet Our Targets'
Following Sunday's meeting, Cabinet secretary Oved Yehezkel told reporters that Israel is not at war with the Palestinian people, nor are there any plans to reoccupy the Gaza Strip.
"The operation may take awhile, and we may be facing difficult days," Yehezkel said.
"Our [IDF] forces and citizens may suffer injuries and the home front will continue to be fired on," he said.
"However, the strength of the south's residents, along with [the IDF's] professional abilities, are the guarantee that we will meet our targets," he said.
Sources: YNet news, The Jerusalem Post, The Associated Press