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Israeli aerial offensive

July 8, 2014

Israel has launched an aerial offensive, targeting Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli premier stopped short of ordering a ground attack, but the military says its readying 1,500 reservists for mobilization.

Israel Westjordanland Konflikt
Image: SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images

At least nine people were injured in the Gaza Strip early Tuesday morning in an air raid by the Israeli military. Warplanes targeting Hamas militants struck more than 30 sites as part of Israel's "Operation Protective Edge."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with his security cabinet late Monday evening to approve the aerial offensive.

Netanyahu said the government would "stop the terror Israel's citizens face on a daily basis," referring to recent rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip.

Hamas rockets hit Israel

On Monday, air sirens were sounded across southern Israel as militant group Hamas stepped up its attacks, which have been occurring frequently in recent days. The Israeli army reported that the Gaza Strip-based group had launched dozens of rockets in quick succession.

"A barrage of over 40 rockets was launched from the Gaza Strip in the past hour. Seven rockets were intercepted over the city of Ashdod and five rockets were intercepted over Netivot," the Israeli army said in a statement.

Over 15 rockets struck the southern city of Beersheva, located roughly 40 kilometers from Gaza.

There were no reports of casualities.

Preparing the troops

Israel responded by carrying out multiple air strikes on Monday. It also confirmed that it was considering ground mobilization of 1,500 troops, fearing deadly retribution from Hamas, which had vowed to make Israel "pay a tremendous price" after killing seven of its members in early morning airstrikes.

The deaths had a "substantial influence" on the situation, according to military spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner.

"The Israeli military is [now] talking about preparedness for an escalation," Lerner said.

Since mid-June, fears of tensions between Israel and Hamas militants spiraling out of control have grown, after the June 12 abduction and murder of three Israeli teens. An alleged revenge murder on a Palestinian teen last week sparked several days of violent clashes in Jerusalem.

Meanwhile on Monday, three of the six men arrested for the murder of the 16-year-old Palestinian, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, admitted their guilt.

kms/rc (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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