July 17, 2014
CBS / AP - The Israeli military said Thursday evening it had launched a ground offensive in Gaza.
The army said in a statement late Thursday that after 10 days of Hamas attacks, it had "initiated a ground operation within the Gaza Strip."
The army said the objective was to strike a "significant blow to Hamas' terror infrastructure."
Israel has warned tens of thousands of people in the northern Gaza Strip to leave their homes in recent days.
The CBS News team in the Palestinian territory's capital, Gaza City, could hear heaving shelling just to the north.
Two people who live on the northern border of the Gaza Strip, near the coast, told CBS News there was carpet shelling in the area. Neither had seen Israeli troops inside Gaza.
One person on the northern border told CBS News he could see bright lights on the Israeli side of the border, and heard what he believed to be engines running, about 300 yards away from him.
According to Israeli television, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that his government deemed it necesary to "expand the ground offensive against the terror tunnels." Earlier Thursday, Israel said it had killed 13 Palestinian militants attempting to sneak into the country via a tunnel under the Gaza border.
Not long into the offensive, Hamas spokesman Faouzi Barhoum told CBS News it was a "serious escalation," and vowed that Israel "will pay dearly."