UPDATED: (Washington, D.C.) — It has begun.
The Israeli Defense Forces have commenced a massive ground operation in Gaza. Israeli leaders have concluded they need to deal a devastating blow to Hamas, and air strikes aren’t enough.
Please pray this will all end quickly. Please pray for calm to be restored. And please pray for mercy for Israelis and Palestinians. It is so painful to see the suffering and trauma on both sides. The Bible commands us to pray for peace — let us be faithful.
“Israel began a ground invasion into the Gaza Strip on Thursday night, saying it would target tunnels that infiltrate its territory after cease-fire talks failed to de-escalate the air war that has raged for 10 days,” reports the New York Times. “The military released a statement at 10:39 p.m. saying the goal of the operation was to ‘establish a reality in which Israeli residents can live in safety and security without continuous indiscriminate terror.’”
“In light of Hamas’ continuous criminal aggression, and the dangerous infiltration into Israeli territory, Israel is obligated to act in defense of its citizens,” a statement from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office said, reported the Jerusalem Post.
“The statement said that Operation Protective Edge, now in its 11th day, will continue until its goals are reached: restoring quiet for an extended period of time, and delivering a significant blow to Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in Gaza,” noted the Post. “Prior to the commencement of the ground invasion, the IDF launched a massive wave of combined air and artillery strikes on Thursday night. The ground invasion comes hours after a Hamas assault squad of thirteen highly armed terrorists attempted to carry out a massacre of civilians at Kibbutz Sufa, near the border, before being blocked by the IDF. Infantry, Armored Corps, Engineering Corps, artillery, and intelligence units are taking over various areas in Gaza, and are all working with one another and the air force. They are operating in northern, central, and southern Gaza, where Hamas has dug an extensive terrorist tunnel network. The IDF’s Southern Command is overseeing the ground offensive.”
UPDATES FROM YNET COVERAGE:
The IDF was planning to take over areas in the Strip and work to locate and destroy the terror attacks in these areas. The army also prepared additional stages of operation, including getting all the way to the Gaza beach.
“This step is being carried out as a continuation of the objectives achieved so far, and to deal a further serious blow to the Hamas terrorist organization and improve the security situation,” the IDF spokesman said, adding that the army was “calling in more reservists to advance the next stages.”
Residents living near the Gaza border have been instructed to enter bomb shelters and safe room, as a heavy barrage of rockets was fired at southern and central Israel.
“The IDF Home Front Command has taken the necessary steps in all relevant areas, and residents of those areas are called upon to heed defensive instructions as they issued by the media,” Almoz said.
The order to take action Thursday night received Cabinet approval after Israel agreed to an Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire on Tuesday but Hamas rejected it and continued firing rockets at Israeli cities. Nor did Hamas respect the humanitarian ceasefire initiated by the United Nations earlier Thursday, and continued to fire at Israel during the truce.
“In light of Hamas’ incessant criminal aggression and dangerous infiltration into Israeli territory, Israel must act to protect its citizens,” a statement from the PMO said.
“Operation Protective Edge will continue until it has achieved its purpose – restoring quiet to the citizens of Israel for an extended period, with significant damage to the infrastructure of Hamas and other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip,” the statement went on to say.