FoxNews on July 13, 2014, reported that Israel’s military said that four of its special forces soldiers were injured in clashes during an incursion into northern Gaza to destroy a rocket launching site as both sides ignored a unanimous recommendation for a cease-fire from the U.N. Security Council. Excerpts below:
The operation marks the first time that Israeli ground forces have been known to enter Gaza during the current fighting. The military said that the soldiers had returned to Israeli territory and the operation did not appear to herald the start of a larger ground offensive.
The raid came after the Palestinian militant group Hamas claimed responsibility for 10 rockets that were fired at Tel Aviv on July 12. The salvo was the largest barrage of the current fighting to target Israel’s second-largest city and financial capital, but caused no damage or casualties.
Earlier on July 12, Israel had announced it would hit northern Gaza “with great force” to prevent rocket attacks from there on Israeli cities.
“We are going to attack there with great force in the next 24 hours due to a very large concentration of Hamas efforts in that area,” Israel Brig. Gen. Motti Almoz said. The military said it was ordering Palestinians in northern Gaza to evacuate “for their own safety.”
Shortly after the Israeli announcement, an Israeli warplane struck the home of the Gaza police chief, Taysir al-Batsh, killing at least 18 people and wounding 50, said Health Ministry official Ashraf al-Kidra.
In a sign that the conflict might widen, Israel fired into Lebanon late on July 12 in response to two rockets fired from there at northern Israel. There were no injuries or damage, but Israel fears militant groups in Lebanon may try to open a second front.
The Israeli military said it has targeted sites with links to Hamas, including command centers, and that it issues early warnings before attacking.
An army statement said that from the morning July 11 to to the morning of July 12, Israel targeted 158 targets “affiliated with Hamas terrorism” in Gaza, including dozens of rocket launchers and a mosque where Hamas stored rockets and weapons.
Israel also targeted several civilian institutions with presumed ties to Hamas, widening its range of targets. Palestinian officials said this included a technical college, a media office, a small Kuwait-funded charity and a branch of an Islamic bank.
Israel has also demolished dozens of homes it says are used by Hamas for military purposes.
The “Iron Dome,” a U.S.-funded, Israel-developed rocket defense system, has intercepted more than 130 incoming rockets, preventing any Israeli fatalities so far. A handful of Israelis have been wounded by rockets that slipped through.
The frequent rocket fire has disrupted daily life in Israel, particularly in southern communities that have absorbed the brunt of it. Israelis mostly have stayed close to home. Television channels air non-stop coverage of the violence and radio broadcasts are interrupted live with every air raid siren warning of incoming rockets.
The frequent airstrikes have turned bustling Gaza City into a virtual ghost town during the normally festive monthlong Ramadan holiday, emptying streets, closing shops and keeping hundreds of thousands of people close to home where they feel safest from the bombs.
The outbreak of violence follows the kidnappings and killings of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank, and the kidnapping and killing of a Palestinian teenager in an apparent revenge attack.