As hostilities entered their fifth day, with no sign of abating, the Israeli military said in a statement shortly after midnight that air and ground forces were attacking the Hamas-run enclave. Rocket barrages from Gaza swiftly followed.
Although the statement gave no further details, Israeli military affairs correspondents who are briefed regularly by the armed forces said it was not a ground invasion, and that troops were firing artillery from Israel’s side of the border.
Residents of northern Gaza, near the Israeli frontier, said they had seen no sign of ground troops inside the enclave but reported heavy artillery fire and dozens of air strikes.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday the campaign “will take more time”. Israeli officials said Hamas, Gaza’s most powerful terrorist group, must be dealt a strong deterring blow before any ceasefire.