Israel says it is adding 18,000 military reservists to the 56,000 already mobilized as the army steps up its ground offensive.
Israeli reserve forces gathered near the Gaza border on Friday, as Israel stepped up its ground offensive, pounding targets with artillery and using tanks and infantry to battle defenseless people of Gaza.

Israel is preparing to step up its Gaza offensive, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday after ground troops were sent into the Palestinian enclave.

Orange flashes from Israeli navy gunboats’ tracer rounds and helicopter air strikes rippled across the coastal enclave.

Hamas resistance group launched mortars bombs at the invading troops and rockets across the border at the southern Israeli towns of Ashdod and Ashkelon. Israel said one of its forces was killed and several others wounded in Gaza clashes overnight.

Hamas said its men were shelling the tanks with mortars and setting off bombs against troops crossing the sandy frontier under smokescreens.

The ground offensive followed a brief truce in which the Zionist regime held fire to allow Gazans to stock up on food and other necessities after being largely holed up at home since the conflict began last month.

Since July 8, Israeli strikes have hit more than 2,000 targets in Gaza and Hamas launched nearly 1,500 rockets at Israel, the Israeli military has said.

Israel last carried out a major ground offensive in Gaza in January 2009.

During that three-week campaign, some 1,400 Palestinians were killed, mostly civilians. Thirteen Israelis also died.

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