JERUSALEM, July 17 (UPI) -- The Israeli Defense Forces announced Thursday it has launched a ground operation into Gaza.
In a Twitter post, the IDF wrote that "A large IDF force has just launched a ground operation in the Gaza Strip. A new phase of Operation Protective Edge has begun."
BREAKING NEWS: A large IDF force has just launched a ground operation in the Gaza Strip. A new phase of Operation Protective Edge has begun.— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) July 17, 2014
The decision to deploy a ground force followed the end of a five-hour truce between Israel and militants in Gaza. The cease-fire, declared after a week and a half of airstrikes, lasted from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. local time on Thursday. After the truce had expired, Palestinian militants renewed the hostilities by launching rockets into Israel.
"The new phase," the IDF said via Twitter, "follows 10 days of Hamas attacks on Israel by land, air and sea -- and repeated rejections of offers to de-escalate the situation." The goal of Operation Protective Edge "is to target Hamas' tunnels that enable terrorists to infiltrate Israel and carry out attacks. This requires precise operations," the IDF noted.