Ahead of a possible Israeli ground operation in Gaza, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz on
Friday agreed to call up 16,000 reserve troops – half the amount of soldiers requested by Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Meanwhile,
the IDF is working towards obtaining a fifth Iron Dome battery.
"The IDF is gearing towards a calling in reserve forces ahead of a ground operation in the Gaza Strip," IDF spokesman Brigadier-General Yoav Mordechai said. "The Military Intelligence continues to make efforts to discern additional targets."
A fifth Iron Dome battery will be handed over to the IAF on Saturday night, as per Defense Minister Ehud Barak's order. The ministry said that the system's completion was moved up by two months due to the recent escalation in the south.
South-bound IDF tank (Photo: Avihu Shapira)
"The fifth battery is the most advanced, and is capable in dealing with the unprecedented variety of threats we are facing."
Since operation Pillars of Defense was launched Wednesday afternoon, the Iron Dome system intercepted more than 140 rockets that were fired at Israel.
The airstrikes on the Strip, which began Wednesday with the assassination of Hamas military chief Ahmad Al-Jabari, continued on Thursday night. Some 250 terror hubs were struck overnight, putting the total of targets hit since the beginning of Operation Pillar of Defense at 500. The IDF stressed that the attacks target missile launching sites, not deserted facilities and posts.
Among the targets was a generator located not far from Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh's home,
as well as the house of Hamas
military commander Mohamed Sonar. The Hamas interior defense command center is also located nearby. Eight tunnels used by terror groups in Gaza have been bombed as well.
The IDF said that so far 19 Palestinians have been killed in the operation.
The army further noted that there has been a drop in the number of rockets launched on Israel overnight.
Infantry and Engineering Corps troops are to replace soldiers who are to be deployed to Gaza. The Home Front Command is also to receive reinforcement.
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