Washington, Jan 3 (ANI): The senior leadership in Israel has given the thumbs up for a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, though the latest developments still don't mean such action is inevitable, sources have said.
A ground invasion could happen soon if international diplomacy fails to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, who have been trading cross-border fire for the past week, FOX News reported.
Israel launched its new round of airstrikes on Gaza in response to renewed missile attacks by Hamas after the two sides' six-month cease-fire ended last month.
A ground invasion of the territory has looked increasingly likely, as Israel has been bringing artillery, armor and infantry to the border, sources said.
Israel bombed a mosque it claimed was used to store weapons and destroyed homes of more than a dozen Hamas operatives on Friday, but under international pressure, the government allowed hundreds of Palestinians with foreign passports to leave besieged Gaza.
Meanwhile, exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said from Damascus on Friday that his militant group was prepared for an invasion and could abduct more soldiers if Israel attempts the incursion.
"If you commit a foolish act by raiding Gaza, who knows, we may have a second or a third or a fourth Shalit," he said. Hamas kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in a cross-border raid more than two years ago.
Hamas, whose charter specifically calls for the destruction of the state of Israel, had ordered a "day of wrath" against Israel on Friday over the killing of a senior commander, FOX News reported.
In another strike on Friday the Israeli Air Force bombed the house of top Hamas operative Imad Akel. The Israeli military reported hearing secondary blasts at the house, indicating the presence of a stash of weapons and explosives in the home.
Israel launched the aerial campaign last Saturday in a bid to halt weeks of intensifying Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza. The offensive has dealt a heavy blow to Hamas, but failed to halt the rocket fire. (ANI)