Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu gave the IDF the green light for a ground invasion of Gaza that already has begun late Thursday night as thousands of more reservists, including those serving in tank battalions, reported for duty.
Soldiers already have taken control of relatively less-populated areas in northern Gaza.
“Following ten days of Hamas attacks by land, air and sea, and after repeated rejections of offers to deescalate the situation, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has initiated a ground operation within the Gaza Strip,” the IDF stated.
It added, “The IDF’s objective as defined by the Israeli government is to establish a reality in which Israeli residents can live in safety and security without continues indiscriminate terror, while striking a significant blow to Hamas’ terror infrastructure.
“This stage of operation “Protective Edge,” led by the IDF’s Southern Command, will include close coordination between IDF units including infantry, armored corps, engineer corps, artillery, and intelligence combined with aerial and naval support. This effort will also be supported by the Israeli Security Agency (ISA) and other intelligence organizations.”
A sure sign of an impending ground incursion Thursday evening was the IDF’s bringing out the artillery to work with naval and air power to try to stem the renewal of a massive Hamas assault on half of Israel immediately after the end of the five-hour United Nations-sponsored “humanitarian” ceasefire,” which Hamas broke after two hours.
Hamas in effect chose to opt for an IDF ground incursion by insisting on what Israeli officials said were impossible conditions for a ceasefire and by unleashing another barrage of rocket and missile fire.
Hamas tested Israel’s will with a barrage or rockets as soon as the five-hour ceasefire ended at 3 p.m. Israeli time.
The Iron Dome shot down more than dozen rockets over Ashdod and Tel Aviv, but one man was critically injured when he jumped out of his car and raced for a shelter.
One building in Kiryat Gat, 25 miles north of Be’er Sheva, was hit by a rocket. No serious injuries were reported.
The Air Force carried out large-scale bombing raids, including a weapons storage room in a Gaza hospital.