Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says operation launched in order to damage underground terror tunnels leading into Israeli territory.
The Prime Minister's Office released a statement on the ground incursion that was launched Thursday night in the Gaza Strip:
"The prime minister and the defense minister have ordered the IDF to begin a ground operation in order to damage the underground terror tunnels constructed in Gaza leading into Israeli territory.
"Such a tunnel was used earlier this morning by Hamas terrorists to enter Israeli territory, with intent to case massive harm to Israeli civilians.
"The IDF successfully thwarted this attempt at terrorism as well. The prime minister and the defense minister have ordered the IDF to make preparations for expanding the ground operation. The order to act tonight has been approved by the security cabinet, after Israel agreed to the Egyptian cease-fire proposal which Hamas rejected and proceeded to fire rockets at Israel. Nor did Hamas uphold the humanitarian cease-fire initiated by the UN, continuing to fire at Israel instead.
"In light of Hamas' unending criminal attacks, and its dangerous incursions into Israeli territory, Israel is forced to defend its citizens. Operation Protective Edge will continue until it achieves its objective – to restore quiet and safety to Israelis for a long time to come, while significantly harming the infrastructure of Hamas and other terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip."
Meanwhile, the IDF Spokesperson's Unit reported that a large contingent of IDF ground forces have just begun an incursion focused at destroying terror infrastructure in the Gaza Strip.
"The IDF has taken the next step in escalating 'Operation Protective Edge,' by including IDF infantry, tanks, engineering, artillery and intelligence units in the ongoing operation in the Gaza Strip, alongside the air force, Shin Bet, and other security forces currently working under the directions of the IDF Southern Command.
"The IDF's action is the result of a decision made by the political leaders, in accordance with IDF operational plans, and will continue as the IDF General Staff continues to receive briefings and assess the situation. The forces currently involved in the operation are in peak condition, after a period of intensified training and thorough preparation."
The IDF Spokesperson's Unit stated that at this point, the operation is continuing to add to the achievements already made in severely damaging Hamas, and creating a safer reality for Israelis.
"The IDF and the Home Front Command have taken the necessary steps in preparing the relevant areas, and residents in those areas are asked to heed all instructions as relayed by the media," the statement said.