18:48 GMT17 June 2021
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    Earlier in the night, the IDF announced that it was conducting an air and ground operation against the Gaza Strip. Several media outlets reported that troops had entered the enclave, however, sources within the Israeli army and eyewitnesses reported that IDF forces never stepped onto Palestinian territory.

    Egypt's security delegation has left Tel Aviv following Israel's launch of a new military operation, and Israel has refused Egypt's calls for a humanitarian cease-fire, Al Arabiya reported, citing sources with the knowledge of the situation.

    According to the report, a delegation from Egypt traveled to the Gaza Strip and then to Tel Aviv to consult with the authorities on the issue of reaching a ceasefire.

    "Israel has rejected the Egyptian request for a humanitarian ceasefire, the Egyptian delegation has left Tel Aviv, fearing the start of a military operation," a source told al-Arabiya broadcaster.

    According to the Middle East Monitor, citing local media, Israeli politicians said that they were relying on what results the army could achieve, noting that they support the escalation of the military conflict.

    Another source is quoted in the report as noting that political circles had considered a full-scale military response to the attacks from Gaza in order to show the harsh consequences of assaulting Israel, although at the moment the logic behind the retaliation measures was to "contain the situation."

    According to other media reports, Israel outlined its intention to intensify retaliatory strikes against Gaza to Egyptian mediators earlier this week, reportedly believing that the international community would tolerate the escalation before the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr on Wednesday night.

    The IDF's operation comes after several days of intensive rocket fire from the Palestinian territory. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the military operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip would continue as long as necessary. 

    Residents of Israeli border settlements have been ordered to stay in bomb shelters until further notice by the country's army, the IDF said.

    Earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged that Hamas will pay "a high price" for the missile strikes on Israel.  Palestinian armed groups have promised to intensify their bombing of Israeli territory in retaliation to Israelis destroying several objects in Gaza.

    The situation between Israel and the Gaza Strip intensely escalated on Monday evening. Rocket attacks on Israeli settlements have taken place almost non-stop. According to the latest IDF data, about 1,750 rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory since the start of the escalation, some 300 of which have exploded in the Palestinian enclave.

    In retaliation, Israel attacked Gaza, hitting targets of Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad and killing several warlords, including high-ranking ones. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, 109 people have been killed a result of the Israeli attacks in Gaza.


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