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Bin Laden tape calls for holy war in Gaza

Israeli forces launched artillery fire into south Lebanon and went deeper into Gaza.

By David MonteroCorrespondent / January 14, 2009



Osama bin Laden has apparently issued a new audio recording urging his followers to launch a holy war to stop the Israeli offensive in Gaza, which entered a 19th day Wednesday.

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The Times (of London) reports that the recording, which could not immediately be verified as authentic, was posted on Islamist websites.

"God has bestowed us with the patience to continue the path of jihad for another seven years, and seven and seven years," bin Laden said on the tape dated in the current Islamic month. "The question is, can America continue its war with us for several more decades to come? Reports and evidence would suggest otherwise."
Bin Laden last appeared in an audio tape in May and also focused on Gaza, calling on Muslims to try to help to end the blockade of the area. The al-Qaeda leader has placed growing emphasis on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in recent years.

The conflict that incited Mr. bin Laden's message deepened and widened on Wednesday as Israeli forces prepared to storm Gaza City while also firing rockets into Lebanon in response to an earlier attack.
England’s Guardian newspaper reports that Israeli troops reached the outskirts of Gaza City.

There was heavy fighting in northern Gaza and around the edges of Gaza City, from where Israeli troops have mounted raids to within a mile of the city centre....
Israel's military said it hit 60 sites overnight, including the police headquarters in Gaza City that had been hit on the first day of the operation, as well as rocket launching sites, weapons stores and 35 smuggling tunnels under the border with Egypt. Six Israeli soldiers were injured.

But it remains unclear if Israeli forces will launch an all-out attack on Gaza City, according to the BBC.

Analysts say Israel may be holding back from all-out urban warfare in Gaza City.
Intense street fighting could complicate truce efforts and cause heavy casualties on both sides, which they say would be a politically risky move less than a month before Israel's parliamentary election.

Israel began its offensive Dec. 27 in retaliation for rockets fired into Israel by Palestinian militants in Gaza. Since the fighting began, a series of new fronts seems to have opened up. The Associated Press reports that Israeli troops have shelled south Lebanon.

Israeli forces fired artillery north into Lebanon on Wednesday in response to a rocket attack, and Lebanese troops dismantled more rockets that were set to be fired, Lebanese security officials said.
The exchange was the second since Israel launched an offensive in Gaza against Hamas on its southern flank on Dec. 27 and threatens to ignite a new front in the north.

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