Hamas movement sent a heavy barrage of rockets deep into Israel on Thursday as Israel pounded the Gaza Strip with more airstrikes and called up 9,000 more reservists.
Gaza’s Health Ministry said the death toll has climbed to 87 Palestinians, including 18 children and eight women, with 530 people wounded. Islamic Jihad confirmed the deaths of seven militants, while Hamas has acknowledged 13 of its militants killed, including a senior commander. Israel says the number of militants dead is much higher.
Seven people have been killed in Israel. Among them were a soldier killed by an anti-tank missile and a 6-year-old child hit in a rocket attack.
Israel diverted some incoming flights from Ben Gurion International Airport, near the city, to the Ramon airfield in the country’s far south, the Transportation Ministry said. Several flights have also been canceled.
In a sign fighting could escalate further, Israel’s defense minister approved the mobilization of 9,000 more reservist troops, and Israel’s military spokesman said forces were massing on the border with the Gaza Strip.
The Defense Ministry that the latest mobilization approved by Defense Minister Benny Gantz was an “exceptional call-up.”
The military’s chief spokesman, Brig. Gen. Hidai Zilberman, said forces were “preparing the option of a ground maneuver.” He told Israeli public television station Kan that tanks, armored personnel carriers and artillery were being readied “for this option for mobilization at any given moment.”
The current eruption of violence began a month ago in Jerusalem, where heavy-handed Israeli police tactics during Ramadan and the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers ignited protests and clashes with police. A focal point of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police was Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque.