Israeli soldiers in tanks and bulldozers dug in a mile-wide strip of eastern Gaza on Saturday, the twelfth day of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge and the third day of its ground attack in the densly populated Gaza Strip.
Palestinian officials say 65 Palestinian people have been killed since Thursday. Fifteen of those killed were under the age of 18.
The IDF’s (Israel Defence Forces) mission to destroy tunnels is to prevent the movement of Palestinian militants and remove their ability to conduct cross-border raids.
The IDF says it has attacked more than 300 targets in Gaza and located 13 tunnels, so far. Many extend across the border between Gaza and Israel.
Hamas released a video purporting to show fighters from its military wing moving about inside some of the very tunnels Israel is targeting.
The group refuses to hold fire unless embargoes by Israel and neighbouring Egypt are eased and other demands are met.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday that his instructions to the Israeli army, “with the approval of the security cabinet is, to prepare for the possibility of a widening, a significant widening of the ground operation.”
According to Israeli media reports, residents of a central Gaza refugee camp received recorded phone messages from the IDF on Saturday morning instructing them to evacuate to another part of the territory.
The United Nations said that more than 50,000 Palestinian people have taken refuge from the Israeli attacks in its Gaza shelters.