Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered Israeli military forces to implement a ground-war offensive in Gaza on Thursday. Media witnesses and Gaza residents are reporting heavy artillery and naval shelling and helicopters along the border.
"The prime minister and defence minister have instructed the IDF to begin a ground operation tonight in order to hit the terror tunnels from Gaza into Israel," the statement said.
Hamas fighters have shown no intention of stopping an ongoing assault on Israel that includes launching hundreds of rockets at Israeli population centers each day.
To that end, Israel has retaliated with airstrikes after each barrage of rockets launched by Hamas terrorists from Gaza.
Life in Israel has become chaotic and miserable since Hamas fighters began peppering the country with their rockets. Millions of Israelis must scurry to bomb shelters within minutes after sirens warn of another attack.
For their part, the Palestinian death toll has soared as Hamas fighters use women and children as shields to protect them and their rocket launchers from Israeli air strikes.
Hamas fighters have fired more than 1300 rockets at Israel in the past week while Palestinian health officials claim 233 Palestinians have died in retaliatory attacks.
Israel has developed an anti-missile weapon system dubbed the Iron Dome to protect its citizens from Hamas rockets fired from Gaza. The Iron Dome, coupled with the inability of Hamas to get its hands on more accurate missiles and rockets, has limited the Israeli body count to one Rabbi.
On Thursday, hours before dawn, an estimated dozen Palestinian fighters slipped into Israel through a tunnel and emerged near an Israeli community. At least one of the Hamas fighters and possibly all of them were killed by ensuing Israeli airstrikes.
Western leaders in Europe and the U.S. have called on both sides to halt hostilities, however each time a cease-fire is brokered, Hamas fighters either resume firing rockets into Israel despite negotiations or begin firing immediately upon the cease-fire expiration.
The current conflict between Hamas and Israel has highlighted Hamas’ use of human shields to protect its fighters and rockets. The terrorist organization's use of human shields has been blamed for the disparity in body counts between Palestinians and Israelis.