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Netanyahu Photo: Marc Israel Sellem
Netanyahu Photo: Marc Israel Sellem
 
 

Netanyahu: Israel prepared to expand Gaza op

As dozens of rockets rain on south Israel and projectile fired at Tel Aviv area, PM tells cabinet IDF prepared for 'significant expansion of operation; soldiers ready for 'any activity that could take place.' Gantz: Intensify aerial assault

Omri Efraim
Latest Update: 11.18.12, 15:24 / Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday Israel was prepared to widen its Gaza offensive significantly.

 

"We are exacting a heavy price from Hamas and the terrorist organizations and the Israel Defense Forces are prepared for a significant expansion of the operation," he told his cabinet, in broadcast remarks.

 

"The soldiers are ready for any activity that could take place," he said.

 

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He gave no specifics and made no mention of the possibility of a ground offensive.

 

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz instructed forces on Sunday to intensify the aerial assault on Gaza, while heavy rocket barrages emanating from the Hamas-ruled enclave were targeting Israel's southern communities.

 

Gantz held an assessment meeting at the Kirya military compound in Tel Aviv, after which he praised the Home Front Command's cooperation with the southern communities.

 

Fresh Israeli airstrikes hit a Gaza City media center early Sunday as the death toll mounted, despite suggestions from Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi that there could be a 'ceasefire soon.'

 


כיפת מרזל מיירטת רקטה מעל תל אביב, היום (צילום: מוטי קמחי)

Rocket intercepted over Tel Aviv area (Photo: Moti Kimchi)

 

"At least six journalists were wounded, with minor and moderate injuries, when Israeli warplanes hit the al Quds TV office in the Showa and Housari building in the Rimal neighborhood of Gaza City," health ministry spokesman Ashraf al Qudra said.

 

Witnesses reported extensive damage to the building, and said journalists had evacuated after an initial strike, which was followed by at least two more on the site.

 

In the northern strip, Israeli war planes carried out two separate raids on houses that killed two and injured 10 others, Qudra said.

 

In Gaza City, as the Israeli air force attacked from above, Israeli naval forces opened fire, launching more than a dozen shells towards the shore, an AFP correspondent reported.

 

"So far the IDF has attacked more than 1,000 terror targets in the Gaza Strip and is continuing with its activity," Netanyahu told his ministers, adding that the army is causing "significant damage to weapons that are aimed at the citizens of Israel."

 

Netanyahu did not address the possibility of a ceasefire, but said "today I will continue to speak with world leaders. I appreciate their recognition of Israel's right to defend itself. In talks with leaders I emphasize the effort Israel is making to avoid civilian casualties, this at a time when Hamas and the terror organizations are making every effort to hit civilian targets in Israel.

 

"Over the weekend I spoke with US President Barack Obama and thanked him for his support of Israel's right to defend itself and for his and the American people's contribution to the development of Iron Dome (missile defense system)," the PM said.

 

During the meeting the cabinet unanimously approved the allocation of NIS 7.6 million ($1.9M) for the construction of fortified day care centers in communities located within seven kilometers (4.3 miles) of Gaza.

 

Earlier Sunday, Hamas fired a rocket at the Tel Aviv area for the fourth time in as many days. The Iron Dome system intercepted the projectile. Another rocket fired from Gaza in the morning hours struck a building in Ashkelon. There were no reports of injury in either attack.

 

AFP, Reuters contributed to the report

 

 

First Published: 11.18.12, 13:31

 

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