Israeli troops initiated their first ground assault on Gaza, early Sunday, in further escalation of the current offensive, now 7 days in progress, and just hours after the UN Security Council unanimously called for a ceasefire.During the night, Israeli naval commandos raided northern Gaza, reportedly to destroy longer-range rockets, dozens of which have been fired at cities as far away as Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Hadera in the north.
So far, no Israelis have been killed, AFP reports, although militants in Gaza have fired over 600 rockets since July 8, and current death totals of Palestinians now number close to 200.
Radio has reported gun fire between Hamas resistance and Israelis in Gaza’s Sudaniya district.
Ground operations began just hours after the UN Security Council unanimously urged Israel and Hamas to return to the ceasefire agreement of 2012.
Ban Ki-moon recently praised Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for ‘courageously upholding his commitment to security coordination’ and urged Netanyahu ‘to exercise maximum restraint and to respect international obligations to protect civilians’.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu told a parliamentary committee, earlier on Thursday, that a ceasefire with Hamas was ‘not even on the agenda.’
Chief diplomats of Britain, France, Germany and the United States are due to discuss truce efforts in Vienna, later today.