JERUSALEM, July 8 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed Tuesday the heads of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to "take off the gloves" against Hamas, as Israel prepares to expand the massive air campaign it launched Tuesday against Gaza.
Since the beginning of the so-called "Operation Protective Edge " early on Tuesday morning, the IDF have attacked at least 50 sites in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. At least 18 Palestinians were injured, according to Palestinian media.
"Hamas chose escalation and it will pay a heavy price for it," Netanyahu said ahead of military consultation with heads of Israel 's defense establishment at the Kirya Military Headquarters in Tel Aviv.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said that the air campaign against Gaza, which Israel launched Tuesday morning ," is not expected to cease within days. "We are preparing for a battle with Hamas that will not end in a couple of days," Ya'alon said following the meeting.
Ya'alon called on the residents of southern Israel, where dozens of Hamas rockets have fallen since last night, to "show patience." "Hamas is leading the current confrontation to a place in which it seeks to exact a heavy price from our home front," he added.
A "special situation" was declared in towns and cities within 40 kilometers from the Gaza Strip border, a legal decree that allow operating "emergency economy" in the area, including temporary closing of schools and business in order to protect the residents.
"In the past hour we have additional 16 rockets fired in southern Israel, five were intercepted," IDF spokeswoman said in a press brief. "We will do what we have to do to dampen Hamas' ability and make sure people in the south can live a normal life."
She added that two brigades are deployed in the area of the Gaza Strip and 1,500 reservists were called up. "We anticipate that the number may very well grow, depending on the developments, " the spokeswoman said.
The renewed conflict along the Gaza border has been the most massive round between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza since November 2012 when Israel staged eight days of intense air strikes on the territory.
RAMALLAH, July 7 (Xinhua) -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday called on Israel to immediately stop its airstrikes on the Gaza Strip amid a growing tension in the enclave, state-run news agency Wafa reported.
Abbas warned Israel of the dangers of escalation and tension, and called for the international community's intervention. Full story
GAZA, July 8 (Xinhua) -- Israeli war jets destroyed early on Tuesday the homes of two Palestinian militants in the southern Gaza Strip towns of Rafah and Khan Younsi, witnesses and security officials said.
Al-Hashash family members said they received a phone call from an anonymous caller, who spoke broken Arabic and identified himself as an Israeli security official, requiring the family to evacuate the house in Rafah town within five minutes. Full stroy