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Israel’s Gaza ground operation continues

A Palestinian man stands amid the debris following an Israeli airstrike on Gaza City on July 18. Mohammed Abed/ AFP/Getty Images

A Palestinian man stands amid the debris following an Israeli airstrike on Gaza City on July 18. Mohammed Abed/ AFP/Getty Images

Israeli forces launched a ground invasion in Gaza Thursday night, starting a new phase in the recent conflict between Israel and Gaza. Follow this live blog for the latest updates. Read through previous updates here.

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Watch: Israeli forces use tanks, infantry

Israeli Defense Forces are stepping up their ground offensive.

Swati Sharma
July 18, 8:34 am
  • Swati Sharma July 18, 8:34 am

A powerful description of Gaza right now

The Guardian’s Peter Beaumont describes some of the things he’s seeing in the Gaza Strip:

Adam Taylor
July 18, 8:38 am
  • Adam Taylor July 18, 8:38 am

Israeli reservist soldiers prepare

Israeli reservist soldiers check their gear as they stand atop armoured personnel carriers (APCs) in a staging area outside the Gaza Strip July 18, 2014. Israel stepped up its land offensive in Gaza with artillery, tanks and gunboats on Friday and declared it could "significantly widen" an operation Palestinian officials said was killing ever greater numbers of civilians. Israeli gunboats lit up the sky with their fire before dawn while helicopters fired into the coastal enclave. Hamas fired mortar rounds at the invading troops and rockets across the border at the southern Israeli towns of Ashdod and Ashkelon. Palestinian health officials said 23 Palestinians had been killed since Israel launched its ground offensive against the densely-populated strip of 1.8 million Palestinians on Thursday. Israel said one one of its soldiers was killed and several others wounded in Gaza clashes overnight.   REUTERS/Nir Elias

Israeli reservist soldiers check their gear as they stand atop armored personnel carriers (APCs) in a staging area outside the Gaza Strip July 18, 2014. Israel stepped up its land offensive in Gaza with artillery, tanks and gunboats on Friday and declared it could “significantly widen” an operation Palestinian officials said was killing ever greater numbers of civilians. Israeli gunboats lit up the sky with their fire before dawn while helicopters fired into the coastal enclave. Hamas fired mortar rounds at the invading troops and rockets across the border at the southern Israeli towns of Ashdod and Ashkelon. Palestinian health officials said 23 Palestinians had been killed since Israel launched its ground offensive against the densely-populated strip of 1.8 million Palestinians on Thursday. Israel said one one of its soldiers was killed and several others wounded in Gaza clashes overnight. REUTERS/Nir Elias

An Israeli army reservist adjusts his gear in a staging area outside the Gaza Strip July 18, 2014. Israel stepped up its land offensive in Gaza with artillery, tanks and gunboats on Friday and declared it could "significantly widen" an operation Palestinian officials said was killing ever greater numbers of civilians. Israeli gunboats lit up the sky with their fire before dawn while helicopters fired into the coastal enclave. Hamas fired mortar rounds at the invading troops and rockets across the border at the southern Israeli towns of Ashdod and Ashkelon. REUTERS/Nir Elias

An Israeli army reservist adjusts his gear in a staging area outside the Gaza Strip July 18, 2014. Israel stepped up its land offensive in Gaza with artillery, tanks and gunboats on Friday and declared it could “significantly widen” an operation Palestinian officials said was killing ever greater numbers of civilians. Israeli gunboats lit up the sky with their fire before dawn while helicopters fired into the coastal enclave. Hamas fired mortar rounds at the invading troops and rockets across the border at the southern Israeli towns of Ashdod and Ashkelon. REUTERS/Nir Elias

SDEROT, ISRAEL - JULY 18:  An Israeli reservist troop prays on top of a bull dozer near the Israeli-Gaza border on the morning of July 18, 2014 near Sderot, Israel. Late last night Israeli forces escalated their operation with a ground offensive, sending troops into Gaza. More than 250 Palestinians have lost their lives since Israel began operation 'Protective Edge'.  (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

An Israeli reservist troop prays on top of a bulldozer near the Israeli-Gaza border on the morning of July 18, 2014 near Sderot, Israel. Late last night Israeli forces escalated their operation with a ground offensive, sending troops into Gaza. More than 250 Palestinians have lost their lives since Israel began operation ‘Protective Edge’. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Adam Taylor
July 18, 8:49 am
  • Adam Taylor July 18, 8:49 am

What happened in Gaza and Israel

Israeli forces launched a ground operation in Gaza Thursday night. Since then:

28 Palestinians and one Israeli soldier have died.

This brings the Palestinian death toll to more than 260, with more than 2,000 injured. The Israeli death toll is at 2.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sees a widening ground war.

After launching the invasion into Gaza Thursday night, he has ordered the military to expand its operations. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to Netanyahu Thursday night. Here is the readout:

Israel withdraws diplomatic mission to Turkey.

 

For previous updates, read here.

Swati Sharma
July 18, 8:52 am
  • Swati Sharma July 18, 8:52 am

Netanyahu: Expect major expansion

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday that he has ordered Israel’s military to prepare for “a significant expansion” of its ground offensive into the Gaza Strip, declaring that tunnels built by Hamas could not be destroyed solely through airstrikes.

Speaking at the opening of a specially convened cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said Israel chose to launch a ground offensive after exhausting other options and realizing that “without action, the price that we would pay would be much greater.”

– Sudarsan Raghavan

Swati Sharma
July 18, 9:02 am
  • Swati Sharma July 18, 9:02 am

CNN Reporter pulled out of Gaza after 'scum' tweet

CNN removed reporter Diana Magnay from Gaza Friday, reportedly after she sent out this tweet:

photo

Earlier this week,  NBC removed its Middle East correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin from covering the Israel-Gaza conflict citing “security reasons,” though it sent correspondent Richard Engel in his place the next day. Many questions remain about Mohyeldin’s departure. Here are some of Mohyeldin’s tweets after he witnessed four Palestinian kids.

Swati Sharma
July 18, 11:00 am
  • Swati Sharma July 18, 11:00 am

The last time Israel pounded Gaza

The eight-day Israeli operation in Gaza in November 2012, dubbed “Pillar of Defense,” saw the mobilization of some 75,000 Israeli reservists — the biggest of its kind since the 1973 Yom Kippur War. A full ground invasion never occurred, but under its looming threat, Israel pounded suspected Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip, leading to at least 158 Palestinian fatalities, according to U.N. figures. Eli Yishai, Israel’s Interior Minister at the time, said “the goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages. Only then will Israel be calm for 40 years.”

Read full story: When Israel raised the heat on Gaza before, civilian casualties soared

CIVILIANS SUFFER MOST

The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem found that four times as many Palestinian civilians died in that offensive’s last four days as they did in its first four, a sign that Israel’s escalation of hostilities wasn’t as surgical as the IDF repeatedly claims. Hamas and Israel declared separate cease-fires; during the eight days of the operation, Hamas fired over 1,500 rockets into Israel, killing five Israeli civilians. Despite the offensive, Israel has not had four years of “calm” since, let alone 40.

 

(Washington Post)

(Washington Post)

– Ishaan Tharoor

Swati Sharma
July 18, 11:41 am
  • Swati Sharma July 18, 11:41 am

Obama: Israel has right to defend itself

At a news conference this morning that largely focused on Ukraine, President Obama also commented on Israel’s Gaza offensive. He said he supports Israel’s right to defend itself:

Before I take just a couple of questions, let me remark on one other issue. This morning I spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel about the situation in Gaza. We discussed Israel’s military operation in Gaza, including its efforts to stop the threat of terrorist infiltration through tunnels into Israel. I reaffirmed my strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself. No nation should accept rockets being fired into its borders or terrorists tunneling into its territory. In fact, while I was having the conversation with Prime Minister Netanyahu, sirens went off in Tel Aviv.

The president also said he hopes Israel will try to minimize civilian casualties:

I also made clear that the United States and our friends and allies are deeply concerned about the risks of further escalation and the loss of more innocent life. And that’s why we’ve indicated although we support military efforts by the Israelis to make sure that rockets are not being fired into their territory, we also have said that our understanding is the current military ground operations are designed to deal with the tunnels.

 

 Read the full transcript here.

 

 

Swati Sharma
July 18, 12:11 pm
  • Swati Sharma July 18, 12:11 pm

Israel targets 'terror tunnels'

A photo taken in March of an entrance to a tunnel near Kibbutz Nir Oz that was discovered by the Israel Defense Forces (Ruth Eglash)

A photo taken in March of an entrance to a tunnel near Kibbutz Nir Oz that was discovered by the Israel Defense Forces (Ruth Eglash/The Washington Post)

JERUSALEM — Israeli forces are determined to take down the tunnel infrastructure built by Hamas and other militant groups that connect to Israel. The army estimates there may be more than a dozen tunnels in operation, although no one has given an exact figure.

Read full story: Israel takes Gaza war underground by targeting tunnels

At an army briefing in the first few days of the now 11-day-long conflict, Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said: “Tunnel terrorism has developed in Gaza over the last few years.” He said that the tactic was first used widely during the 2008-09 war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. However, there is evidence that it began earlier than that when Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped in a cross-border raid near Kerem Shalom, at the southern end of the strip, in 2006. Apparently, his Hamas captors used a tunnel to infiltrate into Israel.

– Ruth Eglash

Swati Sharma
July 18, 12:48 pm
  • Swati Sharma July 18, 12:48 pm

Israeli troops in Gaza, West Bank

An Israeli reservist troop prays in Sderot, Israel.

(Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

(Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Israeli reservists troops arrive for duty near the Israel-Gaza border.

(Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

(Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

A Palestinian protester hurls stones at Israeli soldiers during clashes in the West Bank.

(Alaa Badarneh/EPA)

(Alaa Badarneh/EPA)

Swati Sharma
July 18, 1:52 pm
  • Swati Sharma July 18, 1:52 pm
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