Israel begins ground invasion of Gaza

Israel on Thursday launched a ground offensive into the Gaza Strip, following more than a week of rocket attacks from Hamas forces.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) on Twitter confirmed that Operation Protective Edge had entered a "new phase."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon ordered the expanded operation, which will target tunnels used by terrorists from Gaza that lead into Israel.

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The offensive comes less than 24 hours after the end of a brief ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, which had been requested by the United Nations for humanitarian purposes.

Both Israel and Hamas initially agreed to the U.N. ceasefire request, but violence quickly resumed.

The IDF said Hamas had fired three mortar shells at Israel that struck the town of Eshkol. Israel also said early Thursday it had foiled a terrorist attack in which 13 members of Hamas allegedly planned to attack civilians living on an Israeli kibbutz.

On Wednesday, an Israeli Navy ship killed four Palestinian boys playing on a beach in Gaza. Israeli officials said they would investigate the incident but admitted they were trying to target Hamas.

Israel called up 8,000 additional reservists Wednesday after previously calling 40,000 reservists, many of whom have been stationed along the border with Gaza in case of a ground operation.

Earlier this week, Hamas also breached a ceasefire proposal from Egypt that Israel had agreed to by launching several rockets at Israel.

Tensions flared between Israel and Hamas several weeks ago when the bodies of three kidnapped Israeli teenagers were found. A Palestinian teenager was found dead shortly after in what is believed to be a retaliatory attack.