Israel today launched a ground invasion of the Gaza strip to cripple Hamas’ infrastructure after days of incessant rocket fire and a brazen tunnel attack into Israeli territory.
The land invasion, supported by sea and air, escalates a conflict that has killed hundreds of Palestinians and one Israeli over the past week.
At 10:39 p.m. local time, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the ground operation. Here is what you need to know:
1. The Proclaimed Goal Is to Destroy Hamas Tunnels
Benjamin Netanyahu claimed the group operation was an attempt to wipe out Hamas infrastructure, including a number of underground tunnels, that support and enable attacks on Israel.
Earlier on Thursday, the Israel Defense Force announced that it had killed 13 Hamas militants who had allegedly entered Israel by using tunnels that go beneath the border with Gaza.
In the video above, released by the IDF, you can see the airstrike that reportedly killed the militants. You can read more about it below:
2. The Electricity Is Out in Gaza
Every place in Gaza is burning right now by israeli shells and missiles.#GazaUnderAttack. pic.twitter.com/Oj1QdeXtA2
— صايل (@Sayeel_) July 17, 2014
Around the time that a ground operation in Gaza was announced, electricity turned off in large areas of Gaza. The Israeli Defense Forces have not mentioned turning off the power and, according to Al Jazeera, the reason behind the outage is still vague. Power in Gaza is supplied by the Israel Electric Corp. and reports have emerged over the last few days that the power could be shut off at a moment’s notice.
3. Israel Is Supported by the Navy, Air Force & Surveillance Drones
IDF units including infantry, armored corps, engineer corps, artillery, and intelligence combined with aerial and naval support are involved
— Noga Tarnopolsky (@NTarnopolsky) July 17, 2014
In current invasion is supported by the Israeli Air Force, Navy gun ships, surveillance drones, as well as a number ground troop units. The Times of Israel is reporting that the Air Force struck Wafa Hospital in Gaza City, and that the Navy is shelling Gaza harbor.
4. Journalists Have Been Asked to Evacuate the Area
Evacuating from our hotel after order from #Israel following announcement of ground invasion. #Gaza
— Alexander Marquardt (@MarquardtA) July 17, 2014
Tweets from international journalists, including the one above posted by ABC’s Alexander Marquardt, reveal that journalists have been evacuated from their hotels following the beginning of the ground invasion. Other journalists have tweeted that the IDF is also requesting the evacuation in other parts of Gaza, including the coast, raising doubts that the ground invasion’s only objective is the destruction of Hamas tunnels.
#IDF asking international journos to evacuate their hotel on seaside does not exactly correspond with alleged plan to tackle tunnels. #Gaza
— Jonathan Moremi (@jonamorem) July 17, 2014
5. Over 200 Palestinians & 1 Israeli Has Died
Over the last 11 days of conflict, Israel and Hamas have exchanged rocket fire producing a vast inequality of casualties, mostly due to Israel’s Iron Dome technology. On Wednesday, one missile strike made international headlines when four Palestinian children were killed while playing soccer on a beach in Gaza. You can read more about that below: