Gaza: Constant crump of artillery fire as Israel attempts to neuter its rival

Israeli troops mustering near the border. Credit: John Ray/ITV News

The mass of tanks we have seen for the past few days were gone as we headed towards Gaza this morning.

It has now moved up to the front line as Israeli forces cross the border for the first time since 2009.

From our vantage point we can hear the constant crump of artillery fire and the occasional clatter of machine guns.

Below us, a couple of kilometres distant, smoke rises lazily into the skies. To be underneath such a barrage must be a version of hell on earth.

Israel's stated goal is to destroy the tunnels Hamas has dug beneath the border.

The army preparing to go into Gaza. Credit: John Ray/ITV News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says this cannot be achieved from the air alone. This morning he is promising a further expansion of the campaign already underway.

So what of Hamas? Even if this is not an attempt at regime change, Israel believes it has an opportunity to neuter the militants militarily and to leave them isolated in an Arab world in which the rulers of Gaza have few friends.

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