Three Hamas fighters were reportedly killed and four Israeli troops were injured as the Israeli army conducted its first ground operation in Gaza on Sunday morning. As the United Nations and governments stepped up their calls for a ceasefire, the battle between Israel and Hamas and other terrorist group in Gaza continued to intensify, marked by Israel's first incursion into Gaza:
According to the IDF, a force of IDF naval commandos set out to destroy a long-range rocket cache and launch site near Gaza City, in the northern Gaza Strip."
Following Israeli warnings to Gaza residents over the impending offensive, roughly 2,000 Palestinians fled their homes to find shelter in schools. Haaretz explains why northern Gaza was the focal point for the operation:
Some 36 percent of rockets launched toward Israel in the recent round of hostilities have been fired from the Gaza Strip's north, according to defense establishment figures. Some 30% of long-range projectiles have been fired from the area. Ten percent of the rockets have been launched from the city of Beit Lahya.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian death toll in the five days of fighting has now reached 160. As many as 21 Palestinians were reportedly killed in an Israeli airstrike on the home of Tayseer Al-Batsh, Gaza's police chief.
Elsewhere, rockets from Gaza continue to be fired upon Israeli population centers with the country's Iron Dome missile defense system knocking down projectiles at a high rate. Just moments ago, sirens rang out in northern Israel, indicating that a barrage of long-range missiles had been fired. There were multiple reports of explosions as the rockets were intercepted over Tel Aviv.
The recent introduction of long-range missiles that are capable of firing into northern and central Israel is a first in the conflict between Israel and Hamas. While appeals continue to be made for restraint, with nearly five million Israelis now in range, it seems very likely that this will get worse before it gets better.