The Israeli military has begun a ground invasion in Gaza with the goal of stopping the militants that have been firing rockets into Israel. According to Israeli ministers, a unanimous cabinet had authorized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to send in ground troops when necessary. The ground invasion included soldiers, Israeli tanks and naval gunboats. Nearly 50,000 Israeli soldiers have been mobilized in recent days and 18,000 reservists are being called up to serve.
An attack through a tunnel by militants suspected to be connected to Hamas sparked the Israeli assault. Israeli leaders are claiming that the ground invasion is focused on any tunnels into its territory like the one used for the previous attack. The Israeli leaders said that the invasion is not intended to topple Hamas, the militant Islamist movement that has long ruled Gaza and its citizens.
Palestinian militants have been showering Israeli cities with rockets from Gaza. In a single day of fighting, the Palestinian death toll neared 250 and more than 120 rockets hit cities in Israel. The news of the Israeli ground invasion sparked protests around the world, including in the cities of New York and Paris.
Israel has previously attempted to stop the rocket attacks by utilizing 10 days of aerial bombardment that exacted heavy tolls in Gaza. Israel’s airstrikes have reportedly hit a rehabilitation hospital, four children playing on a Gaza City rooftop, and four young children on a beach. The United Nations estimates that about three-quarters of those killed so far were civilians, including nearly 50 children.
Many of the residents of the areas where the fighting is heaviest have fled and the ones that are left are cowering in their homes, afraid to answer mobile phones or peek out windows. Cables bringing power from Israel have been damaged in the fighting, cutting the electricity off for 80 percent of the coastal territory. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency is currently sheltering thousands who have left their homes, providing health care, education, and other needed services.