Israel threatens Gaza with ground invasion
The Israeli military has intensified its assault on Gaza, as Palestinian militants continue to fire rockets into Israel on the fifth day of hostilities. Israel’s army said air and ground forces were involved in attacks on Friday but had not entered Gaza.
Amid heightened tensions in the Gaza Strip, clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants intensified on Friday with both sides launching air strikes at each other. Clashes between Arab and Jewish mobs on the streets have also prompted Israeli leaders to warn of a possible civil war.
In Gaza, Palestinians fearing an incursion by Israeli troops have been fleeing areas close to the border with Israel. The Israeli military said it had conducted an operation overnight to destroy a network of Hamas tunnels, but no troops had entered Gaza.
Meanwhile Hamas fired three more volleys amounting to about 55 rockets in total into Israel on Thursday evening. An 87-year-old woman died after falling on her way to a bomb shelter near Ashdod in southern Israel. Other areas including Ashkelon, Beersheba and Yavne were also targeted.
Meanwhile, Israel’s Defence Minister on Thursday approved the mobilisation of 9,000 more reservist troops amid fighting with Hamas and Israel’s military spokesman says forces are massing on the border with the Gaza Strip. The Defense Ministry said that the latest mobilisation, approved by Defense Minister Benny Gantz, was an exceptional call-up. It comes after days of heavy fighting in which Hamas has fired hundreds of rockets deep into Israel The military has responded with punishing airstrikes.
Egypt often serves as a mediator between Israel and Hamas, and it has been a key player in ending past rounds of fighting. The officials met first with Hamas leaders in Gaza before holding talks with Israelis in Tel Aviv, two Egyptian intelligence officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. Hamas’ exiled leader, Ismail Haniyeh, was also in touch with the Egyptians, the group said.