Barak Calls Up 30,000 Reservists As Israel Readies Ground Troops for Gaza


idfIsraeli aircraft targeted the rocket-launching operations of Gaza-based terrorists early today as Israeli tanks and armored personnel carriers amassed near the border with the Palestinian territory, indicating that a ground invasion might be growing near.

Cross-border rocket fire continued during a three-hour visit today by Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil.

It is unclear whether an Israeli ground offensive is imminent.

Three Israelis have been killed since fresh fighting began last week, when Hamas launched rocket strikes against the Jewish state. Cross-border fighting intensified after an Israeli air strike on Wednesday killed top Hamas terrorist commander Ahmed al-Jaabari, triggering a major flare-up in and around the area that is home to 1.6 million Palestinians.

Operation Pillar of Defense is Israel’s biggest military campaign in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip in nearly four years.

On Thursday evening, sirens in Tel Aviv sent commuters scurrying home as a rocket crashed into the sea near the coastal city, but causing no casualties. Gaza-based Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack. “We have widened the range of the battle to reach Tel Aviv and what is coming will be greater,” the group said in a statement.

In response, Israeli forces moved closer towards the Gaza border in what appeared to be a prelude to a possible ground offensive, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered some 30,000 reservists to ready for a broader operation.

{ Israel with reporting by France 24}