Israel to begin ground offensive into Gaza

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu says he has instructed military on offensive

Six J80 rockets are launched from the coastal Gaza strip into Israel by militants of Ezz Al-Din Al Qassam militia, the military wing of Hamas movement, in Gaza City. Photograph: Mohammed Saber/EPA

Six J80 rockets are launched from the coastal Gaza strip into Israel by militants of Ezz Al-Din Al Qassam militia, the military wing of Hamas movement, in Gaza City. Photograph: Mohammed Saber/EPA

Thu, Jul 17, 2014, 21:17

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu says he has instructed the Israeli Defence Forces to begin a ground offensive into Gaza tonight.

An official statement from his office said: “The prime minister and defence minister have instructed the IDF to begin a ground operation tonight in order to hit the terror tunnels from Gaza into Israel.”

Reuters witnesses and Gaza residents reported heavy artillery and naval shelling along the Gaza border.

Israel and Palestinian militants in the densely populated enclave have been fighting a cross border war for the past 10 days.

The Israeli military says Gaza militants have fired more than 1,300 rockets into Israel, and Palestinian health officials say 233 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli air and naval strikes. One Israeli civilian has been killed by fire from Gaza.

A statement from the Israeli military said the operation will include “infantry, armoured corps, engineer corps, artillery and intelligence combined with aerial and naval support”.

Before dawn on Thursday, about a dozen Palestinian fighters tunnelled under the border, emerging near an Israeli community. At least one was killed when Israeli aircraft bombed the group, the military said.

Reuters