• This just in    July 17 
IDF launches ground operation in Gaza
Andrew Burton/Getty Images
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

The Israel Defense Forces' official Twitter account confirmed Thursday afternoon that it has launched a "large" force into a ground operation in Gaza.

"A new phase of Operation Protective Edge has begun," the tweet reads. IDF explained the announcement by saying that the so-called new phase "follows 10 days of Hamas attacks on Israel by land, air, and sea — and repeated rejections of offers to deescalate the situation."

"Our goal is to target Hamas' tunnels that enable terrorists to infiltrate Israel and carry out attacks," IDF says. "This requires precise operations."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office issued a statement Thursday afternoon that the assault on Hamas' tunnels will be "limited."

"Israel is committed to act to protect its citizens," the statement said. "The operation will continue until its goals are reached: to bring quiet to the citizens of Israel for a long period of time, and to seriously harm Hamas and other terrorist organizations' infrastructure in the Gaza Strip."

Update: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday that Israel is prepared for "significant expansion" of the ground offensive into Gaza. --Meghan DeMaria

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