Day 1 of IDF's Push into Gaza: A Citizen Army Fights for Their Freedom to Exist

Tel Aviv, Israel-- While preparing his soldiers for the coming battle, an IDF captain gave the troops under his command a powerful speech; reminding them of their mission as they were getting set to advance into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

I don’t think I need to explain to you why we are doing what we are doing. We are here in order to do what we trained for, and what we enlisted for - to protect the State of Israel, and to enable its right to exist in freedom, without them shooting mortars at us, and without us worrying about the families here on the border, and I am confident in what we are doing, because it is our right to be free in our land. It’s not a slogan, it’s the truth.

The IDF said  that since the start of the ground invasion, it took out 17 Hamas terrorists, destroyed 103 targets, 21 rocket launchers, and 4 tunnels. Additionally, 13 terrorists surrendered to IDF forces on the battleground. One IDF soldier, 20 year-old Sgt. Eitan Barack, was killed as Israel’s army was making their push into Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday morning after a security cabinet meeting that Israel was prepared to expand the operation if needed. However, the goal remains the same: to attain peace and quiet within the State of Israel and not to destroy the entire Hamas infrastructure.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is headed to Turkey to try and act as an intermediary, pushing for an Israel-Hamas ceasefire.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Friday that “Both sides must accept painful compromises but we stand by the side of Israel when it comes to self-defense.”

Overnight, Muslim rioters in Turkey stormed Israel’s consulate, ripping down the Israeli flag and replacing it with a Palestinian one.

Additionally, Pope Francis weighed in on the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, refusing to place blame on either side for the ongoing hostilities. The Pope said: “This is a painful moment. I am convinced that God brings us together in prayer for peace, and please allow me to say it’s a prophetic gesture which in some ways will mark the future path… We have to move forward and insist on this path of prayer for peace. I believe in prayer, in the power of prayer and I believe in the hearts of men who are working for peace. I ask God for a quick solution and a political solution. I’m close to you with my prayers and thoughts.”

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