Israeli military begins a ground offensive against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip

18 July-2014, BBC: The Israeli military has begun a ground offensive against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli military begins a ground offensive against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip

Israeli military begins a ground offensive against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said they were extending their 10-day-old Operation Protective Edge.

They said it was in response to continued militant rocket fire and to strike a “significant blow to Hamas”, which controls Gaza.

There was a five-hour humanitarian truce on Thursday but exchanges of fire resumed when it ended.

Some 230 Palestinians and one Israeli have died during the Operation Protective Edge period.

In a statement, the IDF said: “Following 10 days of Hamas attacks by land, air and sea, and after repeated rejections of offers to de-escalate the situation, the IDF has initiated a ground operation within the Gaza Strip.”

It said the goal was to “establish a reality in which Israeli residents can live in safety and security without continuous indiscriminate terror, while striking a significant blow to Hamas’ terror infrastructure”.

The Palestinian Maan news agency said an intensive bombardment of Gaza by Israeli planes, artillery and ships was under way.

Israeli media said one key aim of the ground offensive was to destroy militant tunnels that could be used to infiltrate militants into Israel.

Israel says it has carried out more than 1,960 attacks on Gaza since 8 July, while militants have fired some 1,380 rockets at Israel.

The UN says at least 1,370 homes have been destroyed in Gaza and more than 18,000 people displaced in recent hostilities.

It says most of those killed in Gaza have been civilians.