Although Thursday's ground operation into Gaza was launched less than 24-hours after terrorists tried to infiltrate through a terror tunnel, the security cabinet's authorization for the move was taken Tuesday evening.

That meeting came after Hamas rejected the Egyptian cease-fire proposal and continued to fire rockets on Israel. At that meeting the eight-person security cabinet authorized Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon to launch the operation when they decided.

Netanyahu and Ya'alon met Thursday with the top IDF brass where the decision to launch the operation later that night was taken.

Diplomatic officials said the operation will continue “as long as necessary” and has two goals: restoring prolonged quiet to the south and delivering a significant blow to Hamas.

The officials called on the international community to come out clearly against Hamas for using Gazan civilians as human shields. Referring both to UNRWA's admission that 20 missiles were found in an UNRWA school, and the fact that rockets have fallen on schools in Ashdod and Rishon Letzion, one official said that Hamas hides missiles in their schools in order to fire rockets on Israeli ones.

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