Israel Announces Launch of Offensive Against Gaza Strip Militants
TEL AVIV, July 8 (RIA Novosti) – The Israeli Army announced Tuesday the launch of a large-scale operation against Gaza Strip militants in response to continued shelling from the Palestinian side.
"The army of Israel launched 'Operation Protective Edge' against HAMAS in order to stop the terror that Israel is confronting daily," the army press service said in a statement.
This is the first military campaign since November 2012 that Israel has launched against the HAMAS Islamic movement, which holds power in Gaza. It is yet not clear whether the operation will be limited to distant airstrikes on the infrastructure of the militants or a land operation will be carried out, like in 2008-2009.
According to army officials, since the beginning of this year, over 450 missiles have been launched by Palestinian militants targeting Israeli settlements. The strikes intensified mid-June, when the search for three Israeli teenagers began in the West Bank, leading to the arrests of HAMAS activists accused by Tel Aviv of kidnapping and murder.
The Israeli Army suggests that HAMAS currently possesses 10,000 missiles, with the potential to target an area encompassing from 3.5 to 8 million Israeli citizens. Tel Aviv's previous campaign against Gaza Strip militants claimed the lives of over 100 Palestinians, while an earlier offensive called Cast Lead resulted in over a thousand deaths. The main goal of the offensive is said to be to restore the deterrent in relations with the military groups on the Gaza Strip.
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