The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has launched a large-scale ground offensive within the Gaza Strip after air strikes failed to stop Hamas rocket attacks.

The Israeli military said in a statement: "Following ten days of Hamas attacks by land, air and sea, and after repeated rejections of offers to de-escalate the situation, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has initiated a ground operation within the Gaza Strip.

"A large IDF force entered the Gaza Strip. Their mission is to target Hamas’ tunnels that cross under the Israel-Gaza border and enable terrorists to infiltrate Israel and carry out attacks."

The IDF force comprises infantry, tanks, artillery, combat engineers, and field intelligence, and is supported by the Israel Air Force, Navy, and other Israeli security agencies, according to the statement.

"The length and intensity of Israeli military action is likely to depend on the scale of civilian deaths."

In addition, the Israeli Cabinet reportedly approved mobilisation of an additional 18,000 reserve soldiers to join the force already positioned on the border with Gaza.

In response, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri was quoted by Reuters as saying: "We warn Netanyahu of the dreadful consequences of such a foolish act."

Elevene Palestinians, including a five-month-old baby, have been killed since the ground operation began on Thursday night, Agence France Presse reported.

On the Israeli side, one soldier died and two others suffered minor injuries during what is called the second phase of Operation Protective Edge.

Israel has not announced a time-frame for the new operation, with the length and intensity of military action is likely to depend on the scale of civilian deaths.

Both Israeli military and Hamas insurgents agreed to a five-hour humanitarian truce on Thursday to enable Palestinians to stock-up on supplies and help workers distribute water and food, but resumed fighting soon after.

Hamas earlier rejected a ceasefire deal proposed by Egypt, and was aimed at ending the operation that killed at least 230 people, majority civilians, since 8 July.

Defence Technology