Israel Readies Forces For Gaza Border Assault

David Bowden, Senior News Correspondent, in southern Israel
Israel Readies Forces For Gaza Border Assault

Israel is massing troops and military equipment close to the border with Gaza after hundreds of airstrikes on the Palestinian enclave failed to stop militants launching scores of rockets into the South and central areas of the country.

The government has given the go-ahead for 75,000 reservists to be put on stand by for call-up for any ground incursion into Gaza.

Israel knows that the eyes of the world are on it and that a ground war brings not only military dangers, but international and diplomatic ones too.

But the politicians are all too aware that with an election now just two months away they have to be seen to be doing something to clampdown on the missile strikes coming out of Gaza and forcing Israeli citizens to have to run to their shelters.

"We are under attack," Israeli Defence Ministry spokesman Josh Hantsman said.

"Three million Israeli citizens are now within the range of the Hamas fire, we have a responsibility and a duty to make sure the other side knows we are serious. We will consider all the options."

For now the option appears to be a show of strength and a hope that Hamas will back down and stop targeting Israel before a ground war becomes inevitable.

That means more airstrikes and more attempts to degrade Hamas's ability to hit back from Gaza.

In the mean time the diplomatic pressure carries on apace with the Tunisian foreign minister visiting political leaders in Gaza, 24 hours after the Egyptian Prime Minister did the same thing.

US President Barack Obama has been in touch with both the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and President Morsi of Egypt - whose Muslim Brotherhood is sympathetic to Hamas - to try and mediate.

As yet there has been no breakthrough, so the very public military build-up from Israel carries on as do the airstrikes which the Israeli government hopes will mean the soldiers and their kit can be stood down as quickly as they were called up.

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes