Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha
Jerusalem: In what signals a sharp escalation in Israel-Gaza conflict, Israeli military has decided to call up over 40,000 reservists to launch an assault on Hamas militants, reports said Tuesday.
Speaking to the BBC, Israeli military spokesman Lt Col Peter Lerner said that Israel was prepared for "that escalation", referring to a possible ground offensive against Gaza.
"We have called up some reservists and we are taking the necessary steps around the Gaza Strip to be prepared for that option," he told the BBC.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas vowed that all Israelis would be targeted after an Israeli airstrike in the southern city of Khan Younis killed seven people, including two children.
"The Khan Yunis massacre... of children is a horrendous war crime, and all Israelis have now become legitimate targets for the resistance," the AFP quoted Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri as saying.
As Israel has ratcheted up offensive against Gaza, barreling Hamas targets with more air strikes, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas on Tuesday demanded Israel to immediately suspend the air strikes.
"Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas demanded Israel immediately stop its escalation and the raids on Gaza," said a statement from his office, accordingt o the reports.
In the latest offensive, the Israeli Army has initiated an air operation code-named Protective Edge, to “defend Israeli citizens from Hamas militants”, the Israeli Defence Forces wrote on Twitter.
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) July 8, 2014
Israeli Army said that as part of the Operation Protective edge, air strikes on Tuesday hit 50 Hamas targets in Gaza. Israeli Army said that over 3.5 million Israeli live under constant threat of Gaza fire. Over 300 rockets have been fired from gaza in less than a month, with 80 of them beig fired on Monday alone.
The increased attacks from Israeli forces come after Gaza has intensified attacks on southern Israeli border in wake of an Israeli Army operation to hunt down three kidnapped teenagers who were allegedely murdered by Hamas militants.
Five of Hamas fighters were yesterday killed in israeli firing after which the Palestinian militant grouped vowed revenge, saying Israel will have to pay the price.
Writing on his Facebook page, Sami Abu Zuhri, the Hamas spokesman in Gaza, vowed revenge against Israel saying, "This is a serious escalation and the enemy will pay the price".
At the heart of the recent escalation of conflict is the abduction and murder of three Israeli teen students, who were allegedly killed by Hamas militants.
However, the Palestinian militant group has denied any role.
What added fuel to the fire was a revenge killing, in which a Palestinian teenager named Mohammed Abu Khdair was abducted and burnt to death.
The furore over the brutal murder of a Palestinian teenager in `revenge killing` manifested itself in the form of heightened conflict across the Israel-Gaza border with continued rounds of mortar and rocket firing from both sides.
The brutal murder of the Palestinian teenager sparked fierce clashes and protests across a bunch of Arab towns and leaders from Israel and Palestine both condemned the murder.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu too denounced the murder, vowing to punish the perpetrators.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, on the other hand, said he had asked UN chief Ban Ki-moon to form "an international investigative committee" to probe Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people.