Tel Aviv, Israel — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Defense Minister have ordered the Israel Defense Forces into the terrorist-controlled Gaza Strip. The order to fight Hamas on the ground came at 10:30 p.m. local time Thursday.
A statement from the Prime Minister’s office said that the goal of the mission is to destroy Gaza’s network of tunnels that lead into Israel.
“Israel is committed to act to protect its citizens. The operation will continue until its goals are reached: To bring quiet to the citizens of Israel for a long period of time, and to seriously harm Hamas and other terrorist organizations’ infrastructure in the Gaza Strip,” the statement read.
Before IDF forces crossed the Gaza border, the Israeli military launched a massive air and artillery bombardment to clear the way for ground troops.
The IDF said that infantry, its engineering corps, and tank units will be involved in the operation. They will receive air and naval support, along with several methods of intelligence gathering.
The ground operation comes as Hamas has repeatedly refused to agree to a ceasefire offer. When they did agree to a humanitarian truce Thursday, the Islamist group violated the short, five-hour ceasefire that they had signed off on. Hamas has bombarded Israeli population centers over the past ten days with the goal of taking the lives of innocent citizens.