Israel launches airstrike offensive in Gaza, readies ground troops

Posted by on Jul 08, 2014 at 6:39 am

Responding to increasingly heavy rocket fire, Israel launched an open-ended offensive military operation in the Gaza Strip Tuesday to curb Hamas rocket fire, army officials said.

After fierce volleys hurled 80 rockets at Israel Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened his security cabinet and gave the military the green light to call up more army reservists in addition to 1500 already drafted.

Netanyahu told the heads of Israeli security at the defense ministry in Tel-Aviv Tuesday morning that “the gloves are off,” adding that “Hamas has chosen escalation and will pay a heavy price for it.”

Dubbed “Protective Edge,” the first military offensive by Israel in Gaza since November 2012 began overnight with a series of extensive strikes from air and sea targeting concealed rocket launchers, training bases and weapons storages, as well as houses of individual Hamas members involved in rocket fire, the army said.

“We’re taking this to the next step,” army spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said Tuesday. “We’ve moved on from calm-for-calm,” said Lerner, referring to the policy enacted earlier in the crisis when a cease-fire was reportedly being discussed.

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