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Israeli Military Starts Ground Offensive in Gaza

RIA Novosti

00:50 18/07/2014

TEL AVIV, July 18 (RIA Novosti) – The Israeli military has launched a ground offensive in the Gaza strip aimed at destroying tunnels dug by Palestinian rebels under the joint border, the military command and political leadership of the country announced Thursday.

The forces switched to a ground operation ten days after the beginning of their Operation Protective Edge.

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon have issued an order to bring troops to the Gaza strip aiming to attack the tunnels of the terrorists," the press secretary of the Israeli prime minister told RIA Novosti.

One of these tunnels was used last night by a dozen of rebels to sneak into Israel. The group allegedly targeting a near-border settlement was, however, detected, attacked and forced to retreat.

"Our aim is the tunnels of the Hamas movement, which allow rebels to enter Israel and carry out terrorist attacks," the press service of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed.

The frameworks of the ground offensive outlined by the military and politicians may point to the fact that ground forces will be carrying out their operation at the frontier without penetrating deep into the Gaza strip where over 1.7 million people live.

"At this stage, Operation Protective Edge implies close coordination between various units including infantry, Armored Corps, Engineering Corps, artillery and intelligence units backed by the air force and the navy, as well as the Israel Security Agency and other information agencies," according to a statement by the IDF.

The military vows to take unprecedented pains to minimize casualties among civilians.

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