Israel Approves Call-Up of 40,000 Troops for Possible Gaza Ground Operation
Instructing the Israeli army to “take the gloves off,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the cabinet on Tuesday approved a call-up of up to 40,000 soldiers, if the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is instructed to enter the Gaza Strip in a ground operation, Army radio said.
Defense Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon, GOC Homefront Command Maj.-Gen. Eyal Eisenberg, and Defense Ministry Director General Dan Harel on Tuesday declared “special situation” status for residents in a 40-kilometer range of the Gaza Strip.
“We are preparing for action against Hamas, which will not end within a few days,” Ya’alon said.
“Hamas has led this round of violence so it can target and damage our home front. There is a need for breathing room. The proper behavior and actions of the civilian population, including following Homefront Command instructions and proximity to shelters, is a crucial component in our ability to prevent civilian casualties,” the DM said in a statement released by his office.
“In the last few hours we have launched powerful strikes and hit tens of Hamas targets; the IDF is continuing its strikes to exact a heavy price from Hamas. We will not tolerate rocket fire on Israel cities, and we are preparing to expand the operation with everything at our disposal to strike Hamas.”
Ya’alon expressed his support for Israelis and local leaders in the areas affected by Hamas rockets, concluding that they “demonstrated leadership and responsibility.”
Meanwhile, at a conference in Tel Aviv, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said it was Israel’s “…duty to provide security to our citizens. The question is what’s the right way to do that.”
Livni told an audience at the Haaretz daily’s “peace conference,” that “It very much depends on the extent to which Hamas will not allow Israel’s citizens to live in peace,” according to The Times of Israel.