Jerusalem : Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered Israeli defence forces to “take off the gloves” and decided to launch a “strong” ground offensive in Gaza as at least five Palestinians were killed and over 48 others injured in a series of air strikes against Hamas targets, reports PTI.
“Hamas chose to escalate the situation and it will pay a heavy price for doing so,” Netanyahu said during a high level discussion in Tel Aviv. Netanyahu said that the time had come to “take off the gloves” against Hamas.
Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Chief of Staff Lieut Gen Benny Gantz and Israel’s internal security agency Shin Bet’s Chief Yoram Cohen attended the meeting, along with other defence officials.
“The Prime Minister’s instruction by the end of the meeting was to prepare for a thorough, long, continuous and strong campaign in Gaza,” a senior official said.
“The Prime Minister instructed the army to be ready to go all in. A ground offensive is on the table,” he added.
The decision comes in the wake of foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu party, snapping a 20-month-old alliance with the ruling Likud Party yesterday, over the fractious coalition’s response to frequent attacks by Hamas.
An Israeli air strike on a car in Gaza City killed four people on Tuesday, Palestinian medics said. It came shortly after an air strike killed a Palestinian in central Gaza.
So far, 48 Palestinians have been wounded, four of them seriously, medics said. According to media reports, the defence minister and the Chief of Staff asked for additional reservists to be called up.