Israel Launches Ground Invasion of Gaza

Jul 17, 2014 at 5:50 PM ET

After 10 days of intense air strikes aimed at ending rocket attacks by Hamas, Israel launched a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.

A statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said, “The prime minister and defense minister have instructed the IDF to begin a ground operation tonight in order to hit the terror tunnels from Gaza into Israel.”

The underground tunnels are the target because of an attempted attack early Thursday morning by 13 Palestinian militants. The group came out of a tunnel in Israeli territory but were stopped by Israel Defense Forces.

In addition to air strikes Thursday, including one that landed on a rehab hospital and killed four children playing on the roof, journalists in Gaza reported heavy artillery fire and shelling after the announcement. Power was reportedly cut across Gaza as other hospitals were being evacuated. Earlier in the day, as the brief ceasefire had expired, Hamas had resumed its rocket attacks.

Earlier on Thursday, before the ground invasion was announced, Israel Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said, “We are moving from Iron Dome to an iron fist,” referring to Israeli’s missile defense technology.

According to The New York Times, both sides have launched over 1,000 rockets across the controversial border since the conflict began more than a week ago. In Gaza, 1,653 targets have been hit, resulting in 230 deaths. Israel’s Iron Dome has successfully intercepted most of the rockets fired from Hamas that were thought to target populated areas. Against 27 percent of Hamas rockets that fell into that category, the Iron Dome has been successful 90 percent of the time.

This is the first time Israel has sent ground troops into Gaza since early 2009.