Israel set to invade Gaza Strip as crisis deepens

ISRAEL has warned that it is ­preparing troops for a possible ground invasion of the Gaza Strip in a dramatic escalation of a crisis sparked by the deaths of three Israeli teenagers and a ­Palestinian boy.

At least 15 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian officials say. Picture: AP

At least 15 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian officials say, as the Israeli military examines “all options” to stop rocket fire.

Among the dead were six people killed in an airstrike on a house in Khan Younisa and four others when a car was hit in Gaza City. The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) said 131 rockets had been fired from Gaza since Monday night, with one launched at Tel Aviv yesterday, which was intercepted in mid-air.

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Israel has authorised the call-up of up to 40,000 military reservists with hundreds already drafted in to bolster forces around Gaza.

Islamist militants Hamas have

said all Israelis are now targets.Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, meanwhile, demanded Israel stop the raids on Gaza and appealed for calm.

The IDF said it had targeted some 150 “terror sites” in response to the rocket attacks. It confirmed aircraft and naval vessels had targeted militant compounds, rocket launchers and other infrastructure in Gaza.

Missiles also struck the homes of Hamas operatives Israel claimed were involved in firing rockets, and what it said was a command centre in a civilian building.

Hamas, which controls Gaza, condemned the airstrikes as a “horrendous war crime”.

The sudden escalation comes just days after suggestions of a truce from both sides.

Tensions spiked last week with the murders of three young Israelis in the occupied West Bank and a Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem.

Israel says Hamas was behind the abduction and murder of the Israeli youths – a claim it ­denies.

A day after their funerals, the Palestinian was abducted in east Jerusalem and murdered.

Police have arrested six Jewish suspects and say it seems the 16-year-old was killed because of his nationality.