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Israel says ground offensive under way in Gaza will be limited in scope

Published on Jul 18, 2014 6:05 AM
 

JERUSALEM/GAZA (Reuters) - Israel announced the start of a Gaza ground campaign on Thursday after 10 days of aerial and naval bombardments failed to stop persistent Palestinian rocket attacks, but it signalled the invasion would be limited in scope.

A statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said he had given orders to destroy tunnels that militants had dug to infiltrate Israel and carry out attacks. An Israeli military spokesman said Israel was not out to try to topple the dominant Hamas Islamist group. Such a goal would likely entail a move into densely populated Gaza City, where urban warfare could prove costly to both sides.

Israel last mounted a large-scale invasion of the Gaza Strip during a three-week war in late 2008 and early 2009 that claimed 1,400 Palestinian and 13 Israeli lives.

No time frame was announced for the new operation, and the length and intensity of Israel's assaults could depend on the scale of civilian deaths - casualties likely to boost international pressure for a ceasefire.

An Israeli rocket is fired into the northern Gaza Strip on July 17, 2014. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday instructed the military to begin a ground offensive in Gaza, an official statement from his office said. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
 
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