Israeli regime ground forces roll into the Gaza Strip after the Hamas resistance movement strongly warned Tel Aviv against resorting to the offensive.
The Israeli military’s “air and ground troops are currently attacking in the Gaza Strip,” the Israel ministry of military affairs tweeted late Thursday.
Hamas had earlier warned the regime of a “heavy response” in case it launched such incursion following many days of airstrikes against the enclave.
The regime’s war minister Benny Gantz though sent a whopping 9,000 reservists to the occupied territories’ border with Gaza in an “exceptional call-up,” the Associated Press reported.
It had earlier been reported that 5,000 such reservists had been dispatched to the border area. It was not clear if there was any overlap between the two numbers.
Amid Hamas’ warning, however, the Israeli military later denied having moved into Gaza.
“There are currently no IDF (Israeli military) ground troops inside the Gaza strip. IDF air and ground forces are carrying out strikes on targets in the Gaza strip,” it said, according to the Times of Israel
So far, as many as 109 Palestinians, including 28 children, have been martyred in the Israeli attacks since Monday, and more than 580 others wounded.
“The use of artillery fire in Israel’s four-day-old offensive raised the likelihood of civilian casualties,” AP said.
The regime has waged three wholesale wars against the territory so far, killing thousands of Palestinians in each. The latest escalation has raised fears of another warfare.
The regime started the escalation against the coastal sliver after Gazans rose up in protest against its serious violations in the nearby Tel Aviv-occupied territory of the West Bank, especially the holy city of al-Quds.
The violations have seen the Israeli forces and illegal settlers attacking Palestinian worshippers throughout al-Quds, including on the al-Aqsa Mosque Compound -- Islam's third-holiest site -- that is located in al-Quds’ Old City. The forces have also been trying to forcibly remove Palestinian residents from their homes in the city’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
Scores of others have died during the regime’s brutality across the West Bank.
The combination of atrocities has incurred far-and-wide international ire.
Many world leaders have condemned the violence and urged restraint, and a visit by Egyptian security officials was a significant development in international efforts to bring about a ceasefire. The officials have held separate meetings with Hamas and the Israelis, AP cited two Egyptian intelligence officials as saying.
Gaza-based resistance movements have fired hundreds of rockets towards the occupied territories in retaliation for both the violations targeting al-Quds and the bloodletting that has hit Gaza. The projectiles have flown as far as Tel Aviv, al-Quds itself, and even well beyond them, to the cities of Haifa and Nazareth in the northern part of the occupied territories.
Tel Aviv has been targeted on two occasions with more than 100 rockets each time. The counterattacks have forced Israeli officials to order the flights destined to the city’s Ben Gurion International Airport, which is the Israeli regime’s main air terminal, to redirect.
Most recently, the rockets targeted the cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon, situated to the north of the Gaza Strip, that had already been hit in several bouts of retaliation.
As many as seven Israelis have reportedly died during the reprisal.
About 1,800 rockets have so far been fired from Gaza, according to Israelis. Hamas has asserted that not only did it not recognize any “redlines” as far as its targets were concerned, but also it was yet to roll out the full scale of its military potentials.
Rocket fire from Lebanon
Amid the already explosive situation facing the Israeli regime, the news agency said the occupied territories had also come under rocket attack from the direction of Lebanon.
“At least three rockets were fired from southern Lebanon,” it reported, alleging that the projectiles had been launched from the Qlaileh area north of Naqoura, near Lebanon’s border with the occupied territories.
The Israeli military claimed that the rockets had fallen into the Mediterranean.
Lebanon houses Hamas’ fellow resistance movement, Hezbollah. The latter tows the experience of defending Lebanon against two Israeli wars in the 2000s, and forcing the Israeli military into a retreat in both.
Earlier, the secretary-general of Iraq’s al-Nujaba resistance movement, Sheikh Akram al-Ka'abi also met with Gaza’s resistance leaders, pledging his group’s readiness for “military and security” cooperation with the Gaza-based groups.
Al-Ka’abi also cautioned Tel Aviv that his group’s firepower can reach the depths of the occupied territories.