Fighting in Gaza has entered its 20th day with the death now nearing 1,000 and reports that fighting has also broken out along Israel's northern-border.

Israeli ground and air forces continued their attacks on Gaza with reports of heavy clashes in the suburbs of Gaza City. There were reports that Israel had also fired artillery into southern Lebanon after a series of rockets were fired into northern Israel from Lebanese-based militants.

Both Hamas and Israel continue to ignore a UN Security Council resolution that calls for an immediate ceasefire.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, who has called upon both sides to put an end to violence and allow humanitarian aid into the Palestinian territory, arrives in Israel today. 

Meanwhile, Jeremy Reynolds of ASSIST News Service reports that an e-mail obtained by ANS from a Christian in Gaza - anonymous for security reasons - described to friends in America what it is like to live in the besieged area.

She wrote: "I'm writing this e-mail while the Israeli bombs are blowing up in uncountable places. Some are so close that I can feel and hear; some we know about from the radio. We are not in our house because it's too dangerous over there. All of the windows in my house are broken because of the bombs...It became freezing over there, so we went to our relative's house."

The individual wrote that the situation faced by her and others living in Gaza is so awful that she is unable to really believe it is happening.

"We have had a lot of bad times before, but nothing like this one. A huge number of people are dying everyday; a lot of them we know."

The writer said she cries continuously about the situation in which her people find themselves. She said her best friend's sister's house has been reduced to ash and she is in the hospital.

"I can't even go to see her and stand by her. I'm trying to be brave, but I feel so weak. I can't do anything. I can't promise you to stay alive until I can read your next e-mail...May God hear your prayers, because we all need it."

The writer said that one of her father's friends died while he was trying to buy bread for his family.

"Even to go to buy anything is dangerous."

The writer then talked about someone she knows who is working a lot and as a result, is perhaps more vulnerable than most to the danger in the area. She said she worried about his safety.

Talking about her acquaintance she said: "Every time he calls, I feel like it's the last time. I'm so scared. I don't want to lose all the people that I love, but I learnt from him that when you really believe in something you will never be scared or faithless, and he has faith. He loves this land and he believes in it...And he believes that God is watching him all the time so that he doesn't need to feel scared."

The writer said her people all need to be strong. "We all should ask for help, but from no one other than God. All over the earth (people) are calling for (the Israelis) to stop killing, to stop destroying, for some one to do something, but no one cares. All the governments are looking after their safety and needs."

The writer told her friends: "I've got through a lot since the last time we talked, and every time I (have) said life will get better, but it never did. I took a chance (and "talked" to you by e-mail), since they have Internet right now which won't last for long."

Meanwhile, ANS also obtained a letter from the priest of the Holy Family Catholic Church in Gaza, Father Manuel Mussallam.

The priest wrote movingly about conditions in Gaza.

"From the valley of tears, from Gaza that is sinking in its blood, the blood that has strangled the joy in the hearts of one and a half million inhabitants, I send you this message of faith and hope. But the message of love is imprisoned; choked in our throats as Christians; we do not venture to even say it to ourselves. The priests of the Church today are raising hope as a banner, so that God will have mercy on us and have compassion on us and keep a remnant for himself in Gaza so that the light of Christ that was lit by Deacon Philip at the establishment of the church will not be extinguished but continue to shine in Gaza. May Christ's compassion revive our love for God, even though it is currently in 'intensive care.'"

Father Mussallam said residents of Gaza are living in terror. He said that the children of Gaza and their parents are sleeping in the corridors of their home, if there are any, or in the toilets and bathrooms for their protection.

"They are trembling with fear at every voice, movement and bombardment and the heavy shelling of the F-16 planes."

Father Mussallam said while the planes in most of their flights have targeted the main government and Hamas headquarters, these buildings are as close as six meters from people's homes.

As a result, Father Mussallam said "people's homes have been severely damaged and many children have died because of this. Our children are living in a state of trauma and fear. They are sick from it and for other reasons such as the lack of food, malnutrition, poverty and the cold."

"Our people in Gaza are treated like animals in a zoo, they eat but remain hungry, they cry, but no one wipes their tears. There is no water, no electricity, no food, but fear, terror and blockade."

Father Mussallam asked those who read his letter to remember the suffering in Gaza.

"We want you to raise your continuous prayers to God, and not to hold a mass or service without remembering the suffering of Gaza before God. I am sending short messages from the Bible to our parishioners to increase the hope in their hearts."

"We have all agreed to pray this prayer at the top of every hour, 'O Lord of peace rain peace on us, O Lord of peace, grant peace to our land. Have mercy, O Lord, on your people and do not keep us in enmity forever.'"

He concluded by saying: "In the midst of all this, our people in Gaza remain rejecting war as a means for peace and confirming that the road to peace is peace. We in Gaza are steadfast and have resolution in our eyes, 'between slavery and death, we have no choice.' We want to live to praise the Lord in Palestine and witness for Christ, we want to live for Palestine, not die for it, but if death is imposed on us, we will die honest, brave and strong."