Israeli army footage shows ground troops entering Gaza
Friday, July 18, 2014 - 00:52
Israeli army releases video it says shows ground troops crossing into Gaza overnight. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION)
STORY: A video clip released by the Israeli military on Friday (July 18) showed six tanks rolling in through the sand dunes of Gaza, after a soldier opened a border fence, and long rows of foot soldiers.
The video included a message from a commander communicated to ground troops, saying: "We are engaging in an operation against Hamas, in order to return the peace to Israeli citizens. Your nation is behind you and the terrorists from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are ahead of you."
Israel announced its first military fatality of an 11-day Gaza offensive on Friday and 23 Palestinians were reported killed in the coastal enclave hours after Israel launched a ground offensive.
Israeli bomardment from the air and sea were also stepped up as part of an offensive that has already taken a heavy toll in civilian lives but which Israel says is not meant to topple Hamas, the Gaza Strip's dominant Islamist group.
An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed reports that one soldier had been killed and several wounded in fighting which Israeli media said was concentrated in several areas in the north and south of the territory.
The soldier was Israel's second fatality in the offensive after a rocket attack killed a civilian two days ago. Israeli media said the soldier was killed during an exchange of fire with militants.
In all 251 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed since the offensive began on July 8.
Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said on Twitter Israel had killed 14 Palestinian gunmen in "exchanges of fire throughout Gaza" and destroyed 20 rocket launchers.
Hamas's armed wing said in a statement it had detonated three explosives in northern Gaza and "clashes are ongoing". It also said its fighters had repelled Israeli forces trying to enter another Gazan town, Beit Hanoun, wounding seven soldiers.
Israel began the air and sea offensive in what it called a response to mounting rocket salvos, more than 100 a day, fired by Gaza militants into its cities, sending hundreds of thousands of Israelis dashing to shelters as far north as the Tel Aviv business hub.
At least 20 more rockets were fired at Israel on Friday, a military spokeswoman said.
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