Government Approves Call-Up of 75,000 Reservists; Egyptian Prime Minister, Visiting Gaza, Vows Support for Palestinians
By CHARLES LEVINSON in Tel Aviv, MATT BRADLEY in Gaza City and SAM DAGHER in CairoCAIRO--Israel pummeled political targets throughout the Gaza Strip, including the office of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, as the Israeli military continued preparations for a ground invasion.
The overnight offensive came hours before Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafik Abdesslem entered the Gaza Strip Saturday morning, following in the footsteps of Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil Friday.
Photos: Conflict in Gaza Strip, Israel
But a ground invasion would drastically raise the stakes for a worsening conflict that has already stretched the Middle East's delicate diplomatic balance, even as the U.S. prods Egyptian diplomats to arrive at a negotiated truce.
The decision by Mr. Abdesslem, like Mr. Qandil, to literally wade into the midst of fighting presents a bold--if symbolic--challenge to Israel's government. The political brinkmanship has diplomats worried that a new generation of Arab leaders, who are beholden to their voting publics for the first time, may feel compelled to take action against the Jewish state.
The Israel Defense Forces reported in a statement Saturday morning that they had struck "over 200 targets" including "120 underground rocket launchers and more than 20 smuggling tunnels" on the coastal enclave's border with Israel, according to the IDF's website.
IDF spokesman Brig. Gen. Yoav (Poly) Mordechai said Israeli bombs had also struck Hamas's police headquarters and its homeland security building in Gaza City, the main city in the coastal Palestinian enclave.