Israeli forces attack Gaza Strip

Israeli forces attacked the Gaza Strip on Thursday, marking a new level of conflict in the region amid days of escalating violence. 

The Israel Defense Force (IDF) tweeted Thursday (on the East Coast of the U.S.) about the operation, writing that "IDF air and ground troops are currently attacking in the Gaza Strip."

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The move follows days of scattered airstrikes and rocket barrages between Hamas and the Israeli military.

“There are ground troops attacking in Gaza, together with air forces, as well," an Israeli military spokesman added to The New York Times. The spokesman later clarified that Israeli troops had not entered Gaza, suggesting the possibility of artillery fire from the outside, the Times notes.

In a second statement sent several hours later, an Israeli military spokesperson asserted to The Hill that Israeli ground troops were not currently in Palestinian territory.

"Clarification: there are currently no IDF ground troops inside the Gaza Strip. IDF air and ground forces are carrying out strikes on targets in the Gaza Strip," said the spokesperson.

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Video of the attack shows the city's skyline lit up by consecutive bright explosions as Israeli warplanes roar overhead.

 
 
 
Video from Beersheba, a town in southern Israel, shows the country's Iron Dome defense system intercepting a flurry of rockets fired from Gaza in response. It is not clear if any hit the ground.
 

 
Violence has continued in Israel and the Gaza Strip for days amid Palestinian outrage over forced evictions of families in Jerusalem as well as airstrikes launched in retaliation for Hamas rocket attacks, which have killed three Israeli citizens and injured six more in recent days. More than 100 Palestinians had died in retaliatory airstrikes before Thursday's escalation, including more than two dozen children.
 
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE warned earlier this week that Hamas militants and others would pay a "heavy price" for attacking his country.
 
“Whoever attacks us will pay a heavy price,” Netanyahu warned Monday while adding that the conflict could ”continue for some time.”

“The terrorist organizations in Gaza crossed a red line and attacked us with missiles at the entrances to Jerusalem. Israel will respond with great force," the prime minister added. “We did not want to escalate, but those who chose to escalate will be hit forcefully."
 
The Hill has reached out to the White House and the State Department for further comment.
 
Updated: 9:25 p.m.