Israel launches Gaza ground operation

An Israeli soldier directing a Merkava tank, at an army deployment area near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip, on July 17, 2014. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)

An Israeli soldier directing a Merkava tank, at an army deployment area near Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip, on July 17, 2014. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)

(JTA) — Israel launched a ground incursion into the Gaza Strip to destroy tunnels it says are used for terrorist activities.

The Israel Defense Forces’ spokesman’s office announced the operation by a “large IDF force” late Thursday on its Twitter feed following the order given by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon.

“A new phase of Operation Protective Edge has begun,” the IDF tweet said.

The operation is limited for now to tanks targeting 10 tunnels in Gaza, the IDF said.

“Our goal is to target Hamas’ tunnels that enable terrorists to infiltrate Israel and carry out attacks. This requires precise operations,” the spokesman’s office said.

Israeli troops earlier Thursday stopped an attempted Hamas infiltration from the Gaza Strip, forcing 13 infiltrators back into tunnels.

Israel launched Protective Edge in response to increased rocket fire on the country from Gaza. The Obama administration, which during the conflict has backed Israel’s right to defend itself, has said it would oppose a ground incursion.

 

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