|Israeli Defense Forces to start ground offensive in Gaza|
(Image: Al Arabiya)
As Israeli military Operation Protective Edge aimed at elimination of the militant activities of Hamas and Islamist Jihad in Gaza continues for the second week and the attempts to reach a ceasefire agreement failed till now, Israeli government ordered the beginning of a ground offensive in the besieged Gaza late on Thursday, 17 July.
Israeli aerial strikes against the militants of Hamas in Gaza have already left more than 260 Palestinians in Gaza dead, as nearly 80% of them are civilians and nearly one third of them are children, according to the reports of Gaza Emergency Services and UN. There are also more than 1900 people injured. One Israeli citizen was killed in a recent attack of Hamas, and there are also several dozens of injured people as well. One Israeli soldier was also killed durint the night, since Israeli ground incursion has started.
Israeli government claims to target exclusively militant bases, objects and facilities and urges Palestinians living in the zone of conducting of a military operation to evacuate from the area, but Gaza is under the blockade and it is actually cut from the outside world, so these people have no place to escape the military operation. The only one relatively safe place is the UNRWA camps and schools.
|Israeli aerial strikes in Gaza|
Israel announced that IDF have destroyed nearly 1500 militant objects till now and it is determined to continue an operation in order to restore peace and guarantee the security for the Israeli citizens, living under the threat of the Hamas rockets’ attacks.
Hamas in its turn continues to shell Israeli territory including the major cities such as Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem. Most of the rockets are being intercepted by the Israeli Iron Dome anti-missile system.
International powers urge the sides to immediately halt the violence and to start the talks, as UN, US and Arab League are ready to mediate and to broker the ceasefire deal.
Egypt, brokered a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel in 2012, offered a ceasefire agreement for Hamas and Israel several days ago. Israeli government discussed the agreement and took a decision to accept it and to continue the talks with the Palestinians. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who visited Cairo for these talks, also accepted the Egyptian proposal. Hamas though participated in the talks in Egypt but finally rejected the ceasefire, seeing to benefits for itself and for the people of Gaza in this agreement, according to the Hamas representatives.
|IDF tanks on the border with Gaza|
(Image: Times of Israel)
Wednesday’s killing of the four Palestinian boys, who were playing on the beach, by the IDG, provoked anger and outrage among the people of Gaza. Meanwhile, the death toll rises significantly as Israel continues its strikes.
Though Hamas and Israel agreed on a temporary humanitarian ceasefire to start on Thursday morning. This ceasefire was requested by the UN officials and was intended to be used for the humanitarian purposes and delivering supplies for the people of Gaza. Though Israeli Cabinet declared that in case the ceasefire will be violated by Hamas, Israel will respond.
Hamas started to fire the rockets into the Israeli territory several hours after announcement of the ceasefire, though IDF didn’t respond, but Israeli military operation resumed later on Thursday, as IDF continued shelling Gaza with the rockets and hitting it with the aerial strikes, living more people dead and injured.
In addition to that Israel came to the next stage of its military operation in Gaza, as it has started a ground offensive in Gaza. Nearly 40 000 soldiers and reservists were deployed to the borders with Gaza earlier, as Israel has been considering the possibility of a ground operation, though this option was not among the preferable ones. But on Thursday evening Israeli Cabinet and Defense Ministry met for the talks and discussion of the current situation, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared the beginning of an IDF ground offensive against Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters in Gaza.
|Gaza bombing by IDF|
Israeli military started the incursion and attacked Gaza from the air, from the sea and from the ground, as all kinds of military troops are participating in the operation. Aerial strikes against Gaza were reportedly combined with the artillery strikes. Hamas in its turn responds with the rockets and mortar shelling. Ordinary Palestinians are trying to flee the area of the fighting, as the number of casualties is growing. The situation is deteriorating rapidly on the ground.
Meanwhile Egypt and the countries members of the Arab League continue their efforts to resolve this situation and to resume the talks over the ceasefire. Thus, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who met Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sissi on Thursday, agreed on the necessity of the new ceasefire agreement to be reached.