Israel mulls Gaza ground assault
As Israeli jets continue to pound Hamas rocket sites, the government is considering using troops for a ground assault against the terrorists.
Israel's military launched fresh airstrikes against targets in Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on Tuesday, killing several according to a report, in a bid to halt a barrage of rocket fire that has pummeled southern parts of the nation in recent weeks. But it is not yet clear whether a full-scale ground invasion of the Palestinian coastal enclave by Israeli troops will take place.
Israel is seeking to "retrieve stability to the residents of southern Israel, eliminate Hamas' capabilities and destroy terror infrastructure operating against the State of Israel and its civilians," its military said in a statement. It said that nearly 300 rockets and mortars have been fired at Israel recently, including close to 100 rockets fired on Monday alone.
Israel says the airstrikes are part of an expanded operation for its military forces it is calling "Operation Protective Edge." Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has demanded that Israel immediately stop its offensive.
That marks a huge surge after years of relative quiet. The immediate trigger for the escalation has been heightened tensions over the killing of three Israeli teenagers and the apparent revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager.
Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said the army will gradually increase its attacks on Hamas in Gaza, and is recruiting additional reservists for a potential ground invasion of Gaza. The Hamas rockets that reached Israel have not led to deaths.
In Ashkelon on Tuesday some residents said the outward calm conveyed by the wading pools for sale outside the toy shop, as well as cafes that are staying open, is an attempt to continue with the routines of life despite the deteriorating security situation.
But Amsallem said the fact that her toy store and other shops are open for business Tuesday is "deceptive."
"People are afraid to leave the house and afraid to keep their kids home alone. There's almost no business. We're sleeping in our protected rooms," she said.
Others say they are living in a state of limbo, waiting to see whether Israel will wage an all-out war on Gaza or continue with targeted airstrikes.
"I pray that we'll be able to stop the rockets without a full-scale war," said Ashkelon resident Chaya Turgeman.
What isn't mentioned in the article is the Palestinian rocket barrage that has been going on for several weeks. Before the Israeli teens were kidnapped, Hamas had launched dozens of rockets into Israeli towns. Now Israel's warplanes are seeking out the source of those rockets while also degrading Hamas's ability to launch them.
Israel usually doesn't call up reservists unless they intend to use them. We might expect some sort of limited ground operation in the next few days, rather than a full scale assault. Finding and destroying those rockets will become a priority for the IDF in the coming days.