Thursday, a group of Palestinian fighters blew a 4-meter hole into the border wall that separates the Gaza Strip from Egypt. Two Palestinian security men were injured in the border explosion,  while Palestinian security forces were ordered to lineup there to prevent people from crossing into Egypt through the hole.

The incident took place as Israel approved the next stages of its large-scale military offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz, who authorized the next stages of the attack, said that despite the diplomatic standstill in efforts to release the Israeli soldier held by fighters in Gaza, a breakthrough is possible in efforts to pressure the fighters to release him.

Thursday afternoon Israeli army opened fire at a vehicle in Gaza City carrying a senior fighter of the Islamic Jihad. The fighter escaped the attack with minor injuries, Palestinian security sources reported.

The army confirmed the attack but gave no details about who was inside the vehicle.

Abu Mojahed, media spokesperson of the Popular Resistance Committees, said on Thursday that “Israel should stop wasting time if it wants to resolve the crisis over the soldiers’ abduction”.

Abu Mojahed made three statements during the press conference that gave no clear indication of the fate of the abducted soldier:

"Possibility one: the abducted soldier, for one reason or another, is dead and maybe there is a morgue available for his body or maybe there isn’t"

"Possibility two is the soldier is still alive but is suffering a serious injury. Medication might be available or might not be available”

“Possibility three is that he is fine but that a long time will pass before his release”

Dozens of Palestinian fighters in the northern part of the Gaza Strip took positions near sand-piles barricades. Armed with automatic weapons and grenades the fighters anticipate a ground invasion from the Israeli army.

According to Israeli sources, Palestinian resistance fighters fired a homemade Qassam shell at the Israeli Negev town of Sderot. The shell slammed into a horse-farm near a cemetery; damage was reported.  

In the southern part of the Gaza Strip, Israeli troops continued its ground invasion while the Israeli air-force shelled several areas.

Israeli air-force shelled a building  Thursday morning that was supposedly used as a weapon warehouse by fighters of the  Popular Resistance Committees in Khan Younis in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

In a separate shelling, one missile landed in an open field apparently used for training by Hamas fighters.

Despite the ongoing military operation, fighter fired at least six homemade shells at Israeli settlement adjacent to Gaza borders Wednesday.

Israeli defense minister Amir Peretz authorized the operation Wednesday evening and the army distributed flyers warning residents of Beit Hanoun that the army will start shelling civilian areas there.

In yet another attack carried by the army, an Israeli military plane fired a missile at the Islamic University in Gaza City earlier Thursday morning.  No injuries were reported in the attack, but university officials said that they have decided to evacuate the 60 guards working there.

After Sunday’s abduction of the Israeli soldier, Egypt deployed some 2500 border guards Monday to the area which was formally known as the Philadelphi Route,  fearing that fighters who abducted the soldier would try to smuggle him into Egypt.

The last Israel soldier abduction took place in 1994. Nachshon Waxman, 19, an Israeli corporal, was abducted by Palestinian fighters. Israeli troops stormed a safe house were he was held and exchanged fire with his captives. The abducted soldier along with another soldier and three of the abductors were killed in the attack.