IDF ground forces attack Gaza amid air, sea and artillery pounding. Half a million Gazans told to leave. Israelis around Gaza sent to shelters

Thursday, July 17, 2014
By Paul Martin

DEBKA.com
July 17, 2014

Israel air, sea and artillery pounded the Gaza Strip Thursday night, July 17, as IDF ground forces embarked on a ground attack, just announced by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. debkafile reports a softening-up operation to prepare for the entry of armored and infantry units. The IDF calls on the half million Gazans of southern towns of Khan Younes and Rafah to leave their homes for their own safety. Israelis living close to the Gaza border were advised to stay in bomb shelters.

See earlier debkafile report below:
Hamas tried sending a commando team through a tunnel snaking under the Gaza border for a large-scale terrorist attack or kidnap early Thursday, July 17. As the group of 13-30 started coming to the surface inside Israel opposite the southern Gaza Strip, it ran into heavy IDF fire. Some were killed; the rest turned tail to escape through the tunnel and reach home. Israeli helicopters bombed the tunnel which exploded, and went on to scour the area around the Gaza Strip for more attempted incursions, through the honeycomb of secret tunnels Hamas has sunk for terrorist attacks and kidnaps.

debkafile quotes Israeli and Western military experts as estimating that the prospects of an Israeli ground incursion into the Gaza Strip are now more real than the chances of a ceasefire. There is little substance to the reports that Hamas and Israeli delegations are in Cairo to discuss various drafts of a ceasefire accord.

Our sources stress that the only real talks revolve around an ultimatum Israel has slapped down for Hamas, via the various would-be peacemakers: It has only days to halt its rocket offensive before Israel launches a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.

The question being asked now is why, after 10 days of trading Israeli air strikes for Palestinian rocket attacks, the IDF has not destroyed the Hamas war room, the seat of its command and control center for directing the war and launching rockets, instead of striking the vacant homes of Hamas high-ups.
In the absence of a clear battlefield victory, headlines are appearing like this one: “Hamas Has Already Won Its Rocket War With Israel.”
Even IDF commanders are noting that the IDF, while hammering the Gaza Strip night after night, has not achieved a single tactical victory. Destroying the Hamas war room would serve this purpose.

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