Israeli military says it has launched ground offensive in Gaza

ISRAEL/GAZA BORDER, ISRAEL - JULY 17: (ISRAEL OUT) Israeli soldiers seen along the border with Gaza on July 17, 2014 on Israel's border with the Gaza Strip. As the Israeli operation 'Protective Edge' enters it's tenth day, the body count in Gaza has reach over 200 people. One Israeli has been killed in a Mortar attack. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images) (Lior Mizrahi, 2014 Getty Images)
Tensions Remain High At Israeli Gaza Border (Lior Mizrahi, 2014 Getty Images)
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Updated: 7/17 2:10 pm

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israel has launched a large-scale ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, escalating a 10-day military operation to try to destroy Hamas' weapons arsenal, rocket firing abilities and tunnels under the Palestinian territory's border with Israel..

The Israeli military describes the operation as open-ended, saying the objective is to strike a "significant blow to Hamas' terror infrastructure."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office says he instructed the army to go ahead after Hamas rejected an Egyptian cease-fire plan earlier in the week and after Israeli forces stopped Hamas militants as they tried to infiltrate into Israel through a tunnel from Gaza earlier today. The statement says Israel "is obliged to protect its citizens" from what it describes as "relentless aggression by Hamas."

Hamas officials had no immediate comment.

It's the first major Israeli ground offensive in Gaza in just over five years.

The operation followed a brief truce earlier today in which Israel held fire to allow Gazans to stock up on food and other necessities after being largely holed up at home since the conflict began last month.


©2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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