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Israel deployed ground forces in Gaza and ramped up air strikes in the region Thursday as the bloody, four-day-old conflict with Palestinian militia groups reached a new level. The Israeli assault comes after Hamas groups stepped up their rocket assault earlier in the day, sending a volley of more than 100 missiles into the Jewish state. The Israeli military’s new offensive included at least three brigades at the ready. “IDF air and ground troops are currently attacking the Gaza Strip,” Israel Defense Forces said in a Twitter post. The extent of the ground assault was not immediately clear Thursday, but Israeli forces announced that they had also ramped up air strikes in Gaza, the Washington Post reported. The Israeli military has hit over 700 Hamas targets since Monday after a barrage of rockets were launched in the country by Hamas — a retaliatory strike dubbed by Israeli officials as Operation Guardians of the Walls, according to the Jerusalem Post. “I said that we will exact a very heavy price for Hamas,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the newspaper. “We are doing this, and we will continue to do so.”

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