Fox News on July 18, 2014, reported that Israel’s military said it had struck more than 100 terror targets in the Gaza Strip, hours after ground forces entered the region in an effort to destroy underground tunnels and other “terror infrastructure” used by Hamas to target the Jewish State. Excerpts below:
Israeli officials also said a soldier had been killed in the fighting. The circumstances behind his death were not immediately clear. Hamas’ military wing said it ambushed Israeli units in the northern town of Beit Lahiya and caused casualties but Israeli media said it was likely a case of friendly fire between Israeli troops.
Nineteen Palestinians have been killed in the early stage of the ground operation…
In Gaza City, plumes of black smoke could be seen rising from areas near the border with Israel and explosions could be heard throughout the city.
The military said 50 rockets have been fired at Israel since the start of its ground operation, out of more than 1,500 since the fighting began last week.
Israeli aircraft have struck more than 2,000 targets in Gaza. More than 260 Palestinians have been killed in the air campaign. An Israeli civilian was killed earlier this week.
Israel said it launched an open-ended assault on several fronts, with the primary aim being to destroy underground tunnels into Israel built by Hamas that could be used to carry out attacks. The army said on July 17 that the objective was to strike a “significant blow to Hamas’ terror infrastructure.”
The high-stakes move followed Israel’s growing exasperation over unrelenting rocket fire and came hours after the collapse of Egyptian-led efforts to broker a cease-fire. It also followed a failed attempt by 13 militants to infiltrate Israel earlier through a tunnel under the Gaza-Israel border, only to be stopped by an Israeli strike at the mouth of the tunnel.
Israel had called up 48,000 reserve soldiers, and on July 17 the Cabinet authorized the military to call up 18,000 more, the military said.
A source with close ties to the Israeli military told Fox News, “This is not an all-out operation. … The objectives are quite limited.”
He said the current operation, the first major Israeli ground offensive in Gaza in just over five years, is expected to last only a couple days.
Thousands of soldiers backed by tanks and huge DC9 bulldozers entered the Hamas-ruled territory after 10 p.m. on July 17, security officials and Israeli media said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said he instructed the army to go ahead after Hamas rejected an Egyptian cease-fire plan earlier in the week and after Hamas militants tried to infiltrate into Israel through a tunnel from Gaza earlier.
“In light of the despicable and relentless aggression by Hamas and the dangerous infiltration into Israel, Israel is obliged to protect its citizens,” Netanyahu’s office said.
It added Operation “Defensive Edge” would continue “until its goal is reached: to restore sustainable quiet and calm to the Israeli citizens while severely hurting and dismantling Hamas infrastructure as well as other terrorist organizations in Gaza.”
Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, an Israeli military spokesman, said that the operation is open-ended.
“We will be striking the infrastructure,” he said. “We will be striking the operatives in order to safeguard the civilians of the state of Israel especially issues to do with tunneling, that was exemplified earlier today.”
Thousands of Israeli soldiers had massed on the border with Gaza in recent days, waiting for the order to go in.
Palestinian militants fired more than 50 rockets at Israel, including a heavy salvo toward the Tel Aviv area that sent people running for cover, the Israeli military said. The military said a rocket fired from Gaza struck the city of Ashkelon at precisely 3 p.m. local time (8 a.m. ET) as the pause in military activity ended. No injuries were reported.
Israel responded with a wave of eight airstrikes…