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.

    You May Like

    Video US Observes Memorial Day With Wreath-laying, National Concert

    Obama lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
     Previous    
    by: meanbill from: USA
    July 17, 2014 10:51 AM
    A ceasefire without Israel concessions, would be a Gaza Palestinian surrender, (and all the Gaza martyrs killed by the Israeli's, would have died for nothing), and draw that line in the sand, telling the Israeli's, you can make Gaza one great Palestinian graveyard, or end the Israeli Gaza occupation, (and then), we'll start negotiations for the return of the occupied Palestinian territories, to form a Palestinian state....

    IF Israel won't give the occupied Gaza concessions, and refuses to agree to negotiate on returning the occupied Palestinian territories, (then, and only then), the Gaza Palestinians must make their final stand..... Let the Gaza Palestinians stand on their rooftops, and shout out to the Israeli's and the world, take my home, and my little piece of land, (but only after), taking it from over my dead body....
    In Response

    by: Eric from: USA
    July 17, 2014 4:08 PM
    Perhaps because Israel left Gaza years ago yet the violence hasn't stopped. For strategic and tactical reasons, it hasn't been possible. Israel doesn't want to be in a continuous war with its neighbors. However, Hamas has only one goal, to see Israel wiped from the map. They have no interest in peace. They have no problem putting their own people in harms way and use them as political pawns.
    In Response

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    July 17, 2014 1:06 PM
    Do you ever realize that this land was first taken from the Jews during one of their numerous exiles? How did it become a Palestinian land? You must be a muslim from your antecedent and hatred of the Jews, is there anywhere in your koran you find the land called the of the Palestinians instead of the land of the Jews? Now you advice the Palestinians to support Hamas and shoot at Israel, they will only die, and the world continues.

    Since the world on which you islamists so resolutely rely for support has failed to bring you the needed succor, why not try a path of peace in the alternative rather than follow your foolhardy fighting someone absolutely stronger than you? Or have you no way of exclaiming like your predecessors who fought the Jews in history, when the sun stood still until Gideon had defeated your ancestors who confessed, "truly God is with this people (Israel)".

    by: ifthikar from: uae
    July 17, 2014 10:44 AM
    usa is not a honest mediater for the palestine issue.egypt should intervene and help the palastine to end the conflict
    In Response

    by: meanbill from: USA
    July 17, 2014 1:58 PM
    HELLO? .. Sisi sold his soul to Saudi Arabia and the US, who will do what that the Israeli's want, and the only deal he offered the Gaza Palestinians was a ceasefire, and negotiations with Israel in Egypt, with (no) prior Israeli concessions..... Egypt is owned now by Saudi Arabia, and the US, and now Israel....

    by: joblo from: canada
    July 17, 2014 10:01 AM
    I thought the Palestinians were originally Canaanites. No no no they were the Philistines. Somebody told me that the Palestinians were the present day Israelis until Nasser decided on a name change. Now with a ahem cease fire the whoever it is in Gaza can go back to restocking.
    In Response

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    July 17, 2014 12:54 PM
    They are either the Amalekites of the Philistines.
    In Response

    by: thhdhn from: ha vn
    July 17, 2014 12:01 PM
    Philistines, Palestinians , sound alike

    by: Dingos Breakfast
    July 17, 2014 8:41 AM
    All a ceasefire will do is allow Hamas to stock up on weapons and carry on where they left off.
    In Response

    by: Mr.Scott from: SE Ohio
    July 17, 2014 11:05 AM
    I agree as well.
    In Response

    by: Frank from: USA
    July 17, 2014 10:58 AM
    Palestine must fight for their land against the terrorist Zionist state that stole from them, my forefathers fight the powerful British and won, South Africans fight the powerful white racists tyranny and won... the Zionist racist regimen will be defeated, no doubt about, the count down just started, more powerful they look, the fall will be more crushing.
    In Response

    by: Marietta Alexander
    July 17, 2014 10:22 AM
    I agree, the militants are continuing to fire missiles in spite of the temporary cease-fire. You cannot trust them at all; they are completely irrational.

    by: jabez from: chennai(india)
    July 17, 2014 8:02 AM
    Hamas probably realized, anymore shelling and there will be no philistine civilization.....
    In Response

    by: Mr.Scott from: SE Ohio
    July 17, 2014 11:07 AM
    I don't think they care. What better way to get close to that point and draw others into the conflict.

    by: Joe from: United States
    July 17, 2014 7:33 AM
    I hear that after the "humanitarian truce", they went back to bombing and killing each other senselessly.
    Comments page of 2
     Previous    

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora