News / Middle East

    Israel Carrying Out Ground Offensive In Gaza

    • An Israeli rocket is fired into the northern Gaza Strip, July 17, 2014.
    • An Israeli tank maneuvers to take a position along the Israel-Gaza Border,July 17, 2014.
    • Palestinians watch as workers at the hospital morgue prepare the bodies of four members of the al-Astal family, who were killed by an Israeli airstrike, in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, July 17, 2014.
    • An Israeli tank takes its position along the Israel-Gaza border, July 17, 2014.
    • An Israeli soldier looks through the scope of his weapon outside the southern Gaza Strip, July 17, 2014.
    • A Palestinian girl walks with a toy that she salvaged from debris of the el-Yazje apartment building that was destroyed in an overnight Israeli missile strike, in Gaza City, July 17, 2014.
    • A TV screen shows the ongoing fighting between Israel and Gaza at the entrance to a coffee shop, in downtown, July, 2014, Tel Aviv, Israel.
    • A Palestinian man walks through a market in Gaza City, July 17, 2014.
    • Relatives of Dror Chanin, 37, who was fatally wounded when a mortar exploded near the his vehicle, cry during his funeral in Yahud, Israel, July 16, 2014.
    • A man walks past the el-Yazje family apartment building which was destroyed following an overnight Israeli missile strike, in Gaza City, July 17, 2014.
    VOA News

    Thousands of Israeli soldiers began a ground invasion into the Gaza Strip late Thursday, escalating a 10-day military operation that aims to destroy Hamas' offensive capabilities, including the group's weapons arsenal and tunnels that infiltrate Israel's territory.

    The Israeli military said the operation was open-ended but limited in its scope, and would be carried out in several areas of the coastal strip.

    The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that the Israeli cabinet had approved the ground incursion, and that it came after Israeli forces stopped an attempted attack by 13 Hamas gunmen who tried to enter southern Israel through a tunnel earlier Thursday.

    The statement said when Israel repelled the earlier incursion, it averted what it characterized as “a mass terrorist attack against Israeli civilians.”

    On Thursday, the Israeli military said 18,000 reserve soldiers would be mobilized to join the tens of thousands already called up.

    The result is a substantial ground force, according to Daniel Nisman, president of the Levantine political risk consulting group in Tel Aviv.
     
    "We're talking about a considerable number of forces, at least, from what I understand, five infantry brigades, a large amount of armored tanks, combat engineers, and of course they're all supported by aerial drones, the navy and a good amount of artillery," Nisman said.

    "It will deal a decisive blow to Hamas' tunnel capabilities, but it will not make any sort of difference to their rocket capabilities or their command and control capabilities," he added.

    An Israeli military spokesman said Israel was not attempting to topple the Hamas Islamist group that rules Gaza. Such a move would likely require sending troops into densely populated Gaza City, resulting in urban warfare and huge casualty numbers for both sides.

    Hamas said Israel will suffer terrible consequences for carrying out the offensive.

    The Gaza ground invasion came after 10 days of intense fighting between Israel and Hamas. Israel has carried out airstrikes on more than 2,000 targets in Gaza, and Hamas has launched more than 1,000 rockets at Israel.

    French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius will visit Egypt, Jordan and Israel from Friday to Sunday to try to defuse the situation, and will discuss putting a European mission on the Gaza-Israel border, a diplomatic source told Reuters on Thursday.

    Fabius will meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Cairo on Friday as part of his three-day trip.

    He will meet Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on Sunday, the source told Reuters.

    Power cuts, deserted streets

    Witnesses and Gaza residents reported heavy artillery and naval shelling along the Gaza border. News reports said all power had been cut in Gaza City as of late Thursday.

    Earlier in the day, a U.N. official said Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip and Hamas rocket fire directed at Israel resumed after a five-hour humanitarian cease-fire expired Thursday. U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for the Palestinian territories James Rawley said the truce was respected for the most part by all parties, but attacks resumed as soon as it expired.

    "Rockets have been going out of Gaza and airstrikes and naval bombardment has resumed on Gaza," he said, "so once again the people of Gaza are suffering and probably dying, and the people of Israel are also being victimized by rockets and mortars going out of Gaza."

    The streets of Gaza have been virtually deserted since Israeli military operations targeting Hamas began last week, as residents have stayed home or have sought protection at U.N. schools.
     
    But for a brief time during Thursday's truce, Rawley said, citizens were able to go shopping or go to the bank, while some vital repairs were done to electrical and water facilities.
     
    "It only was a pause of five hours, it was respected for the most part by all parties, which is good," he said, "but it is a pity that as soon as the pause is over, the hostilities have resumed."

    U.S. response

    U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki asked Israel to redouble efforts to prevent civilian casualties. She described an attack that killed four Palestinian children playing on a Gaza beach as "horrifying."

    Mourners in Gaza buried three of the Palestinian children Thursday. Israeli officials called the deaths "tragic" and said they were investigating.

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry underscored in a telephone call with Netanyahu on Wednesday that "there's more that can be done" by Israel to avoid civilian casualties and that it must redouble its efforts, Psaki said.

    But even while stepping up U.S. pressure for Israeli restraint, Psaki reasserted Washington's condemnation of Hamas's "indiscriminate rocket attacks" targeting Israeli civilians and affirmed U.S. support for Israel's right to defend itself.

    More than 220 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict, while one Israeli citizen has died.

    The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) reported 20 rockets were discovered hidden in a vacant school in Gaza. A statement from UNRWA said this was the first time weapons have been found in their facilities.
     
    Egypt talks

    Meanwhile, talks for a broader truce are being held in Egypt, but Israeli and Hamas officials had backed away from earlier media reports that a deal had been reached.

    Palestinian, Egyptian, Israeli and U.S. officials said discussions were underway on terms for a cease-fire, but a high-level Israeli delegation returned to Israel early Thursday pessimistic about the chances for peace.

    The decision to begin a ground operation on Thursday night began to take shape at that point, according to Israeli media.

    Israel previously agreed to an Egyptian-backed deal that called for an immediate end to the fighting, the eventual easing of border restrictions and further talks hosted by Cairo.
     
    Hamas rejected the deal, saying their leaders had not been consulted and it did not address other conditions such as Israel's long-standing blockade of Gaza. 

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon responded to the operation by urging Israel to do more to prevent Palestinian civilian casualties. He said a dangerous conflict has now escalated further.   

    VOA's Gabe Joselow contributed to this report from Jerusalem. Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AP.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
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    by: Abubakar from: Dallas, tx
    July 20, 2014 12:54 PM
    The abuses and violations against Palestinians by Israel and fully endorsed by United Nations is a clear indication to me, the intent is to wipe out Palestine from the world's map physically and psychologically. After that plan is achieved, it will be said it was the Palestinians who refused the idea of a two state solution.

    If there were to be a worldwide referendum to vote on who is the barrier to a two state solution, Palestinians would come out the winners. The whole world knows who the oppressor is.

    To me the real barrier to the two solution is the United Nation, controlledstate by America and other so called super powers designed to serve their economic and political interests globally. It is a matter of time before the world saw just Israel and no more Palestine. Because at that time there will be enough Jewish people settled in the Palestinian remaining land rendering Palestinians living as minority in Israel.

    Unless dramatic change took place in the foreign policies of US and Europe or their influence in global politics come to an end Palestinian hope for their own state is not liked to be realized.

    According to our holy Quran when Prophet Daud/David(as) defeated Jalut and became the King, Allah told him to uphold JUSTCE at all times and not to follow his own desires.

    For the most

    by: joe from: nova scotia
    July 17, 2014 10:54 PM
    Israeli's fights to protect its civillians, while Hamas uses it's civillians to protect itself.
    Both sides are wrong Hamas for not seeing that Israel has the right to exist as a state and Israel for their over use of a military response causing far to many Arab casualties considering there has only been one israel'i casualty.

    by: Ali baba from: New York
    July 17, 2014 8:38 PM
    I understand That Hamas Is a terrorist organization. I understand That Israel has the right to defend itself. I understand that Hamas or other terrorist organization Started the conflict. AT ,THE SAME TIME ,Israeli IS WRONG. Israel USE EXCESSIVE FORCE TO KILL PEOPLE INDISCRIMENTLY . Israel has TO STOP THE ATTACK IMMEDITELY. ENOUGH PEOPLE HAD BEEN KILLED
    In Response

    by: ali baba from: new york
    July 18, 2014 6:54 AM
    Yes ,Israel Has the right to defend itself. I understand that Hamas is firing missile To Israel territory. We have to look for the picture as a whole. Both Israel And Palestine are stubborn. Both of them are guilty for a crime against humanity which children are killed because both side are refusing to compromise of a conflict started from 66 years and Israel at fault of taking Palestine land and left them in refugee camp for two generation.

    Israel has to negotiate in good faith To resolve the issue but both side choose violent rather than work in a peaceful solution. In addition ,Hamas is connected with Muslim terrorist organization which possess extreme haltered to Jew and Christian. the Islam faith is feeding the haltered behavior which will turn the world into zoo. Since the American politician are Sunni lover ,no hope that American will work with both side effectively
    In Response

    by: Elias Ortega from: Florida
    July 18, 2014 2:51 AM
    Israel has the right to defend. Who's firing missiles indiscriminate are the terrorists from Hamas.If they don't Israel won't.

    by: maluak from: south sudan
    July 17, 2014 3:17 PM
    isreali must lounch attack for the defence of nation against gaza militia


    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    July 17, 2014 2:11 PM
    Hamas started the conflict by raining rockets on Israeli civilians, apparently from nothing capable of provoking the action. Hamas kidnapped and killed three Israeli youths from apparent no provocation, and even if there was one revenge killing following after, it should have been absorbed. Hamas refused a ceasefire and continued to fire at Israeli civilians, an unmistakable sign of hatred that had Hamas had the kind of leverage that Israel has over the region, it would have been total ethnic cleansing, the kind that obtains in islamist countries. Right now that fear is rife in the areas that are susceptible to ISIS incursion owing to the realization that all islamist campaigns follow the same pattern of ethnic cleansing, subjugation of minorities and suppression of dissent.
    Now there is a self-imposed humanitarian ceasefire, unilaterally approved by Israel’s cabinet to evacuate and treat those injured in the Hamas-inflicted conflict. It is Hamas-inflicted because it is Hamas that started the war and also attracted the fire that burned the “innocent” civilians by firing rockets from population areas. Question is whether during the five hours truce Hamas did continue to shoot while the humanitarian effort went on. For allowing this to happen shows how civilized Israel is and how far it can be trusted to be the convergence of a multi-ethnic society in a region which no other country out there can be. That does not however mean an endorsement of one state comprising of Israel and the Arabs in one country. A two-state solution still remains the best option so that the wild-multiplying Arabs do not inadvertently overgrow and outnumber the Jews within a short time and thereby remove Israel from the world map by its mistake of westernized family system, fulfilling Iranian desire. However, a Palestinian splinter inside Israel in the name of Hamas distorts the two states solution.
    Once solved, another issue is whether the five-hour truce can be the beginning of another long term truce that suspends and postpones the evil day. For while Hamas still remains and has Iranian made weapons pointing at Israel’s jugular ready to go at any given opportunity, no one can truly talk about peace settlement with the Palestinians under whatever pretext. A peace negotiation will start with PLO having one country with contiguous boundaries and ruled from Ramallah - one voice only - side by side with Israel, not a disjointed one having two countries in Gaza and West bank at the same time. Allowing this truce elongate into another lull during which Hamas re-arms and strategizes for another strike at Israel is truly a missed opportunity to rearrange the Palestinians into one contiguous group and country living side by side with Israel to put paid to the case of occupied land once and for all time.

    by: lookin up from: USA
    July 17, 2014 12:02 PM
    What country in the Mid-East pre-announces what they are going to do and when, with respect to fighting for Peace, and yes you have to fight when it doesn't come naturally. What country will not accept the above country right to exist? to the point they educate their children from the womb that the main path to god and heaven is by killing WHO?

    What country uses these same children and religious events and buildings to hide and attack from? What country will only agree to cease fire with another, if it ceases to exist and tears down its borders and then allows themselves to be assassinated by what country, so they no longer exist?

    VOA, you are not in any way a voice of mine or most Americans!!!!

    Please label yourself correctly you are the voice of the left that believes that peace will come in an area that all the time " Israel" did not exist they were fighting, to the point the Arab "world" said that Palestine should not exist! Please answer why there were wars in this same area with out any Jewish rule.
    In Response

    by: Richard Brandlon from: Portlnad, OR
    July 17, 2014 4:06 PM
    I'm so glad you can speak for "most Americans." I'm also gratified that your definition of "the left" as people who don't approve of killing kids playing on the beach OR nutcases firing rockets.
    Israel, under its current warmongeriing government, is really proving the Golden Rule in reverse - doing to others the same as what was done to them.

    by: Rick Hogan from: Fairhaven, Massachusetts
    July 17, 2014 11:45 AM
    Why do the news media constantly refer to groups like Hamas as "Palestinian militants," but never call the IDF "Zionist militants"? And how about replacing "Israeli settlers" with "Fanatics from Brooklyn with a Bronze Age world view and a high colesterol diet"?

    by: Mr.Scott from: SE Ohio
    July 17, 2014 11:04 AM
    I give Hamas less than 24 hours to break the cease fire agreement.

    by: New Old School from: New York
    July 17, 2014 11:00 AM
    Why is the No. 1 story every single day on Google News? This is not the most important thing happening on the planet every single day.

    by: Ripon from: Bangladesh, South Asia
    July 17, 2014 10:54 AM
    I propose send the both Israel & Hamas to the Mars for their next round fight.

    Let us - all people of every religion - live in peace here on this planet of earth.

    Careless Whisper: I'm aware of the fact that man proposes & God disposes.
    Comments page of 2
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