Israel sent its military into Gaza early Friday, a major escalation of violence between Palestinians firing rockets into Israel and Israeli forces carrying out airstrikes in Gaza.
It was not immediately clear if the Israeli incursion was a limited bid to destroy rocket bases or kill leaders of Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, or if it was a full-fledged invasion akin to the one in 2014 that killed more than 2,000 Palestinians.
The news was announced by the Israeli Defense Forces with a one-line tweet at 12:22 a.m. (5:22 p.m. Thursday on the East Coast of the United States): “IDF air and ground troops are currently attacking in the Gaza Strip.”
An Israeli military spokesman, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, confirmed that “There are ground troops attacking in Gaza, together with air forces as well.”
Hours earlier, Israel had called up 7,000 military reservists and canceled all leaves for troops in combat units, leading to speculation that an escalation was imminent.
The incursion came as the United States and others were urging a diplomatic resolution of violence that began on Monday, set off by a clash between Arab worshipers and Israeli police at the Aqsa mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam.