Israel warns of imminent ground invasion of Gaza
Israel yesterday told an estimated 100,000 Gaza residents living in cities near the border with Israel to leave their homes immediately, in a clear warning of an imminent ground invasion of the densely-populated enclave that houses nearly two million Palestinians.
According to Israeli media reports, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) yesterday sent phone calls to people living in cities and towns, including Beit Lahia, Beit Hanoun, and Absan al-Saghira, ordering them to evacuate and move to the west or south.
Residents are largely unable to leave the territory, however, because the US-backed military regime in Egypt, headed by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, has closed the only possible border crossing, at Rafah, except temporarily for some injured people who need to seek hospital treatment.
After four days of relentless aerial bombardments, which have already killed 89 Gaza residents, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has approved a call-up of 40,000 IDF reservists. About 20,000 have already been mobilised to the Gaza border in anticipation of a possible ground assault.
In a statement televised following a meeting of his security cabinet, Netanyahu declared: “So far the battle is progressing as planned but we can expect further stages in future.”
Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon added, “We have long days of fighting ahead of us.”
The Israeli offensive is being intensified with the clear backing of the United States. President Barack Obama phoned Netanyahu late yesterday, reportedly offering to broker a ceasefire, while stressing his support for the view that Israel has the right to employ overwhelming force against Gaza, supposedly to defend itself.