Israel pulls tanks, infantry close to Gaza: Report

December 28th, 2008 - 5:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Tel Aviv, Dec 28 (RIA Novosti) Israel is pulling tanks and infantry reinforcements close to Gaza in preparation for a possible ground attack on Hamas militants, the Ynet web portal and The Jerusalem Post newspaper reported Sunday. Israel’s air force launched Saturday, and continued till Sunday noon, a number of simultaneous airstrikes targeting the paramilitary units of the radical Islamist movement Hamas, which is in virtual control of the salient.

The airstrikes, launched in response to rocket and mortar fire by Hamas militants against southern Israel, have reportedly killed more than 270 Palestinians.

Ynet quoted Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak as saying in an interview with British Sky News television that the Israeli ground forces would enter the Gaza Strip, if necessary.

According to The Jerusalem Post, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal called on West Bank residents to rise up against Israel in a new “intifada” but at the same time repeated that his organization was interested in renewing the ceasefire agreement with Israel.

He said that the ceasefire would be possible on the condition that Israel lift its siege of Gaza and open all crossings in and out of the Gaza Strip.

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