The Israel Defense Forces are escalating an armed offensive on the Gaza Strip, readying all options for snuffing out rocket fire coming from the besieged enclave.
“The army is preparing for all possible scenarios, including an invasion or a ground operation,” a senior Israeli official told AFP.
The Israel Defense Forces released footage on July 8 showing what it described as strikes on “terror sites” in the Gaza Strip overnight.
Overnight on Tuesday the IDF launched more than 50 airstrikes on Gaza, marking the beginning of its newly-dubbed “Operation Protective Edge.” Another 40 air strikes followed around midday on Tuesday. The attacks have killed five people and injured at least 50, according to Palestinian medical sources.
Gaza militants have launched more than 120 rockets at Israel over the last 48 hours, an IDF spokesperson told VICE News, causing minimal property damage and no confirmed injuries.
The Israel Defense Forces released footage showing its troops mobilizing along the Gaza border.
The Israeli army called up 1,500 reserve Border Police and infantry troops on Monday, in preparation for a potential ground offensive on the besieged coastal enclave. Officials plan to call up several thousand reservists to replace infantry and tank battalions currently deployed in the West Bank. The battalions will be sent to Gaza’s borders.
“We can expect more troops to be called up soon,” the IDF spokesperson said. “We are prepared for any potential eventuality. There is a general understanding that this is going to be a significant operation.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with top military officials on Tuesday to discuss a “significant broadening” of the military operation and to instruct the military to “take off the gloves,” a source close to the prime minister told Israeli army radio.
“The prime minister’s instruction by the end of the meeting was to prepare for a thorough, long, continuous and strong campaign in Gaza,” a senior Israeli official told Haaretz following the same meeting.
Officials have discussed calling up as many as 40,000 additional reservists. The plan is an “initial government approval,” the IDF spokesperson said, authorizing plans for a mass mobilization if rocket fire from Gaza does not abate.
Footage shows the aftermath of a deadly IDF airstrike in Gaza.
Dr. Ayed Yaghi, director of the Palestinian Medical Relief Society in Gaza City, told VICE News the outlook in Gaza is bleak.
“The people here are fearing the worst,” he said. “The human situation is difficult. You know, there are organizations here that haven’t paid salaries in months, there is barely any gasoline — the economic situation is grim and the people are afraid it will get worse. They are afraid the Israeli army may reoccupy Gaza.”
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