Friday, 18 July 2014

Israel launches ground phase of Protective Edge

Israel Defence Forces (IDF) elements have penetrated the northern part of Gaza in a combined arms operation against limited targets July 17 as part of Operation Protective Edge…IDF and Palestinian fighters exchanged fire in Khan Younis, a city in southern Gaza, at 10:30pm local time…There are also unconfirmed reports of Israeli forces exchanging fire with Hamas militants in the south of Gaza, immediately southeast of Rafah…Offensive support continues to be provided by Israeli fixed-wing and rotary aircraft and indirect fire from land and sea…Hamas publicly ordered Gaza residents to stay home, branding those who leave as collaborators with the “Zionist enemy”...Jerusalem this morning approved mobilising an additional 18,000 reservists, this would lift the current military personnel participating in Operation Protective Edge to 70,000…The ground phase of the 10-day Israel-Hamas war occurs during the second failed cease-fire in less than a week…Tens of thousands of IDF troops were positioned close to the Gaza border since early in the fresh conflict, indicating a ground operation was expected eventually…IDF commanders ordered the incursion after reports emerged of Hamas fighters tunnelling into Israel…Israeli forces will now immediately look for known and unknown Hamas tunnel systems and rocket caches which airstrikes could not destroy…The operation is not expected to be long or extensive as Hamas militants will employ superior terrain knowledge and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) against IDF troops…Israel’s endgame is removing Hamas’ military capability but stopping short of removing Hamas from power…Hamas will likely intensify its rocket barrage in a use-it-or-lose-it calculation…Egypt is offering to mediate the conflict but is expected to conduct its own operations against Hamas tunnels in the south of Gaza in the next few days.

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