Tel Aviv, Nov 17 (IANS/RIA Novosti) The Israeli cabinet has authorized the military to mobilize up to 75,000 reservists in anticipation of a possible ground offensive on Gaza, the media reported.
The decision on raising the mobilization level was adopted during a special Cabinet session of Gaza strategy Friday.
The Israeli military earlier reported that 16,000 reservists had already been called up while two elite army brigades had completed the preparation to enter the Palestinian enclave "if necessary".
Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense Wednesday, killing Hamas' military chief Ahmed al−Jabari and attacking hundreds of rocket−launching sites, ammunition depots and "terrorist" cells that belong to radical Islamist groups operating in Gaza, primarily Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Palestinian militants have fired more than 450 rockets at Israeli cities, including Tel
Aviv and Jerusalem.
The toll in the ongoing confrontation rose to at least 30 as of Friday, including 27 Palestinians and three Israelis.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that the Israeli army was prepared for a "significant widening" of its operation in the Gaza Strip if necessary.
Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has urged the international community to pressure Israel to halt the offensive.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki−moon appealed Friday to both sides of the conflict "to stop this dangerous escalation and restore calm". He also announced through his spokesman that he intended to visit the region shortly.
Israel last carried out a full−scale attack on Gaza during Operation Cast Lead four years ago in which 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed.