The Israeli army is preparing for a possible ground incursion into the besieged Gaza Strip after launching several airstrikes on the coastal sliver.
The army mobilized troops for the potential ground invasion as part of what it dubbed “Operation Protective Edge,” saying the offensive seeks to strike Hamas, the Palestinian resistance movement.
“We are mounting the forces to enable us to mobilize if required. I can’t see that happening immediately but we have a green light to recruit more reserve troops that will enable us to carry out a ground mission,” Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said.
Dozens of heavily armored vehicles, including tanks and bulldozers, are lining up on the Gaza border, awaiting an order to act, while Israeli news outlets say everything is ready for a ground assault.
Meanwhile, concerns are on the rise in Israel that Hamas rockets could reach as far as Tel Aviv in retaliation for Israel’s escalated airstrikes on Gaza. Israel on Tuesday hit at least 50 sites in Gaza by air and sea.
Hamas has about 10,000 rockets, including longer-range rockets that can reach “up to Tel Aviv and beyond,” Lerner said.
The Palestinian resistance movement said it was responding to “Zionist aggression,” following the deaths of several Hamas members in Israeli airstrikes.
Tensions heightened between Palestinians and Israelis after the burning alive of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, a Palestinian teen in East al-Quds last week. Abu Khdeir’s death came after Israel buried three settlers, whose bodies were found in a field near the village of Hilhul, north of the West Bank city of al-Khalil (Hebron). Tel Aviv claims Hamas is responsible for the death of the three. However, Hamas rejects the allegation.
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