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After 10 days of an aerial campaign by Operation Protective Edge to stop the rain of missiles into Israel from Gaza, Israeli officials said a ground campaign has been launched in Gaza to destroy militant infrastructure such as tunnels, but not with the intent to topple Hamas. Israeli forces used a Patriot missile to shoot down a Hamas drone over Ashkelon. Israeli bombardments of militant targets in Gaza resumed after a brief ceasefire was broken by Hamas rockets fired into Israel. Three suspects in the kidnapping and killing of a Palestinian youth in Jerusalem appeared in court; Israeli officials called the brutal murder a "terrorist act."
The military said the Iron Dome defense system shot down 29 of 123 rockets fired into Israel today. The IDF agreed to a five-hour humanitarian truce starting tomorrow. Justice Minister Livni warned, however, that Israel will have no choice but to launch a ground incursion into Gaza if the rocket attacks do not stop. Over 1,000 rockets have been fired at Israel since the start of Operation Protective Edge last week; one Israeli has been killed so far by the attacks.
Hamas' Al Qassem Brigades launched missiles into Tel Aviv, the suburb of Rishon LeZion, and Haifa; Israeli officials said the Iron Dome defense system intercepted two missiles. Over 100 rockets were fired towards Israel from Gaza today, bringing the total to over 630 so far in the conflict. Israeli forces shelled the source of a cross-border attack from Lebanon. A rocket fired from Syria landed in the Israel-held Golan Heights. Prime Minister Netanyahu said Israel's offensive will stop only after the capabilities of Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza have been seriously degraded.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said he would not give in to international pressure to halt Israel's offensive against militants in Gaza, and refused to rule out the possibility of a ground operation. He claimed that Israeli forces have attacked over 1,000 targets, many of them linked to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, in the four-day offensive and that there are still "more to go." The military said about 550 projectiles have been fired at Israel since July 8.
The Israeli military claimed to have hit over 750 targets in Gaza so far on the third day of its offensive, including 320 Hamas targets such as underground tunnel networks and rocket launching sites last night. Of the 250 missiles and mortars launched from Gaza towards Israel in recent days, the Iron Dome interceptor has shot down 70 missiles, a near-90% success rate. As a result of the incoming fire, nine Israelis have been slightly injured and 59 treated for shock. Israeli officials, concerned about the long-range missiles being employed by Hamas, said they are not seeking a ceasefire but rather to dismantle Hamas' rocket infrastructure. A military official for the southern command said preparations are underway for expanding the operation; Israel's UN envoy stated that a ground offensive would be prevented if Hamas stopped firing rockets into Israel.
The military launched Operation Protective Edge, conducting airstrikes on over 150 targets in Gaza. Hamas' Al Qassem Brigades claimed to have fired rockets at Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa. At least 17 Palestinians are reported to have been killed and over 100 wounded. Top Islamic Jihad militant Hafez Hamad, his two brothers, and his parents were killed by an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip. Hamas gunmen landed on the shore near a military base in Zikim; four gunmen were killed. The government is calling up 40,000 reserves due to the potential for escalation. The US Embassy in Tel Aviv is cutting staff to a minimum.
Hamas vowed to avenge the deaths of eight militants killed by Israeli strikes in Gaza; five were reportedly killed in a strike on a smuggling tunnel in Rafah. The Israeli military claimed it had targeted "terror sites and concealed rocket launchers" and that strikes had hit at least 14 locations in response to the firing of some 39 rockets and mortars into southern Israel since yesterday. One of the rockets landed deep inside Israel, near Beersheba. Israeli authorities yesterday arrested six Jewish suspects in the revenge murder of a Palestinian youth; the murder occurred after the bodies of three kidnapped Israeli teenagers had been found.