Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered a ground invasion of Gaza by the Israel Defence Force.
Thousand of soldiers supported by tanks entered the strip on Thursday evening at the end of a brief ceasefire, extending Israel’s Operation Protective Edge. Palestinians have reported heavy fire in the north from troops and several Israeli gunboats in the port and the continuation of air strikes.
One of the first casualties of the ground assault was a five-month-old baby killed along with four other people by tank fire. The toll since Israel began its aerial assault on Gaza on July 8 has now reached 246.
The Israel Defence Force announced, “Following 10 days of Hamas attacks by land, air and sea, and after repeated rejections of offers to de-escalate the situation, the IDF has initiated a ground operation within the Gaza strip.” It is Israel’s first ground offensive into Gaza since 2009.
The ground invasion is said to be targeting “terror tunnels” dug under the border to allow Palestinian insurgents to enter Israel unseen. During the humanitarian ceasefire on Thursday morning, 13 Hamas gunmen attempted to enter Israel through one of the tunnels. Nine were shot dead by the Israel Army. – Ra’Eesah Lillah
Top photo from Israel Defence Forces’ Flickr photostream.