Attacks escalate in Gaza, Israel: region on brink of all-out war

Friday, November 16, 2012
By Paul Martin
November 16, 2012

Israeli tanks and troops moved toward the Gaza Strip on Thursday night in apparent preparation for a possible invasion after a day of violence that included a fatal rocket strike in the southern Israeli city of Kiriyat Malachi, raising the likelihood that the region was on the brink of all-out war.

A day after Israeli aircraft and warships struck scores of targets in Gaza, retaliating against militants who have fired hundreds of rockets fired into the country in recent weeks, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak summoned more than 30,000 reservists to military duty. Barak said the order was intended to make Israel “ready for any development.”

Those soldiers could be seen from Kiriyat Malachi, 20 miles north of Gaza, massing and heading toward the border, even as officials indicated that the decision to invade had not yet been made.

“We have made the preparations, and entering is certainly an option,” said a senior Israeli military official based in southern Israel, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity. “If the politicians were looking for an excuse, Hamas gave them one.”

That was a reference to rockets fired by from Gaza, ruled by the hostile Palestinian faction, that struck neighborhoods across southern Tel Aviv. It was the first time Palestinian rockets had reached the densely populated urban center where more than 40 percent of Israelis live. No one was injured in the strikes on Tel Aviv, but three people died in Kiriyat Malachi when a militant’s rocket struck a four-story building.

The possibility of all-out war alarmed countries around the globe. Egypt’s Islamist government said Prime Minister Hesham Kandil would visit neighboring Gaza today in a show of solidarity with Hamas and ordered the border crossing at Rafah opened around the clock to allow wounded Gazans to seek medical care in Egypt. Hamas leaders said offers of assistance were pouring in from throughout the Arab world.

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