Smoke rises after Israeli air strikes in Gaza City. Photo
Israel has started drafting 16,000 reserve troops, in a
sign that violence could escalate further with Palestinian
militants in the Gaza Strip.
Israel's two-day assault on Gaza has largely been from the
air, but officials have said a ground incursion could be
necessary to stem rocket fire into southern Israel.
Israel's army would be heavily dependent on reservists to
fight any prolonged war. The military has received a green
light to call in up to 30,000 reserve troops.
The Palestinian Authority has renewed its call for the
U.N.Security Council to take action to stop Israel's attacks
against the Gaza Strip, a day after the 15-nation body held
an inconclusive emergency meeting on the escalating conflict.
"The mobilization of Israeli occupying forces on the ground,
including the amassing of tanks, armored vehicles and buses
near the Gaza border are cause for serious concern and demand
the attention of the international community," the
Palestinian U.N. Observer, Riyad Mansour, wrote to the U.N.
"We thus reiterate our urgent appeal to the Security
Council... to uphold its (U.N.) Charter duties and to act now
to protect the Palestinian civilian population underIsrael's
occupation in accordance with international humanitarian
law," he wrote to Indian Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri,
president of the Security Council this month.
Israel launched a major offensive against Palestinian
Hamas militants in Gaza on Wednesday (local time),
killing Hamas' military commander in an air strike and
threatening an invasion of the enclave that the Islamist
group said would "open the gates of hell."
Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor called for international
condemnation of the "indiscriminate rocket fire against
Israeli citizens - children, women," referring to recent
escalating Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza.
The U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting to
discuss Israel's strikes against Gaza but took no action, as
Israel threatened a wider offensive in the Palestinian
enclave to stem rocket salvoes by Hamas militants.
Puri told reporters after Wednesday's meeting that the
council would convene again on the Gaza crisis if necessary.
Mansour said in his letter to Puri that Israel's attacks on
Gaza were "a grave breach of all norms of international law."
Hamas, not the Palestinian Authority, controls Gaza.
U.N diplomats said earlier on Thursday that U.N.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon would visit Israel and Egypt
next week to help mediate an end to the conflict.
The Security Council's failure to take any action on
Wednesday was not a surprise. It is generally deadlocked on
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which U.N. diplomats say is
due to the U.S. determination to protect Israel.
The fighting escalated on Thursday. Two rockets from Gaza
crashed near Tel Aviv in the first such attack on Israel's
commercial capital in 20 years. One fell into the
Mediterranean Sea and the other in an uninhabited part of one
of the Tel Aviv suburbs south of the city.
Two days of Israeli air strikes have killed 19 Palestinians -
seven militants and 12 civilians - including six children and
a pregnant woman. A Hamas rocket killed three Israelis in the
town of Kiryat Malachi on Thursday morning.