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.
A little after 22 o’clock on Thursday night, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced that he ordered the IDF ‘ to enter Gaza for ground operation against Hamas”. Immediately afterwards a message was posted from Cairo, unprecedented in the history of the Middle East, which placed the responsibility for the IDF incursion into the Gaza Strip on the shoulders Hamas. It marked the peak of diplomatic coordination between Jerusalem and Cairo.