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Israel calls up 9,000 reservists as troops deploy to Gaza border in preparation for possible ground invasion while its police battle to control riots between Arabs and Jews

  • Barrages since Monday have killed Hamas commanders, including Gaza City terror boss, top rocket designer
  • Hamas requested ceasefire last night on ‘mutual basis’ after launching 1,600 rockets – leaving 7 Israelis dead
  • But Israel has vowed to press on with its military campaign despite outcry from the international community
  • UN has warned of ‘full-scale war’ as the number of Palestinians killed in airstrikes reached 83 on Thursday
  • Plans for a ground invasion were being drafted for the IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi later today 
  • Troops have been deployed along the Gaza border in preparation for any orders from the top brass 
  • ‘The campaign is still far from over,’ Israeli cabinet minister said last night. ‘Whatever we don’t do now, we will have to do in six months or a year from now … Israel will not stop and has no interest in stopping’

By ROSS IBBETSON and CHRIS JEWERS FOR MAILONLINE and MARK NICOL DIPLOMACY EDITOR AND JAMES FRANEY IN TEL AVIV FOR THE DAILY MAIL

PUBLISHED: 03:02 EDT, 13 May 2021 | UPDATED: 16:16 EDT, 13 May 2021

Israel called up 9,000 reservists to bolster its forces today as it deployed troops to the Gaza border in preparation for a possible ground invasion.

Relentless air strikes continued to decimate Hamas strongholds in the Strip this afternoon as their brigades held funerals for slain commanders, including the terror boss of Gaza City and their intelligence chief.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing the prospect of a war on two fronts as internal rioting by Jewish and Arab mobs descended into ‘lynchings’ last night in the worst civil unrest for decades.

Hamas requested a ceasefire on a ‘mutual basis’ late on Wednesday after firing more than 1,600 rockets into densely populated Israeli neighbourhoods, killing seven civilians including a five-year-old boy.

Netanyahu rejected the peace offering despite growing international alarm at the rising civilian death toll following more than 600 air strikes on Hamas targets – 83 Palestinians have been killed, including 17 children. 

Troops were today ordered to the Gaza border in ‘various stages of preparing ground operations’, a military spokesman said, a move that would recall similar incursions during Israel-Gaza wars in 2014 and 2008-2009. 

The IDF said an infantry assault is just ‘one scenario’ which is being considered as it deployed several units to the border, including the Paratroopers Brigade, Golani Infantry Brigade and 7th Armoured Brigade.

‘The campaign is still far from over,’ a minister said after a cabinet meeting last night with Netanyahu. ‘Whatever we don’t do now, we will have to do in six months or a year from now.’

He told Israeli news site Ynet: ‘When we have hit all our targets and the other side has still not surrendered, we will launch a ground operation even though we do not seek it.’

Plans for the ground invasion were being drafted for approval by Israeli Defence Force Chief of Staff Lt-Gen Aviv Kohavi later on Thursday, according to the Jerusalem Post. If they get the General’s sign off, the plans will be passed on to Netanyahu and his cabinet. 

‘This will not end in the next few days,’ the cabinet minister added. ‘Israel will not stop and has no interest in stopping.

‘It is all moving in the right direction. We will act until they admit that opening fire was a mistake, just as Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah did after the Second Lebanon War in 2006.’ Israeli soldiers fire an American-designed 155mm self-propelled howitzer towards the Gaza Strip from their position near the southern Israeli city of Sderot on Wednesday. It comes amid a build up of troops at the border in preparation for a possible ground invasion of the Strip+108

Israeli soldiers fire an American-designed 155mm self-propelled howitzer towards the Gaza Strip from their position near the southern Israeli city of Sderot on Wednesday. It comes amid a build up of troops at the border in preparation for a possible ground invasion of the StripA ball of fire engulfs a tower block in Gaza City early on Thursday morning as Israel presses forward with its campaign against Hamas. 'The campaign is still far from over,' a cabinet minister said after last night's meeting with Netanyahu. 'Whatever we don't do now, we will have to do in six months or a year from now.'+108

A ball of fire engulfs a tower block in Gaza City early on Thursday morning as Israel presses forward with its campaign against Hamas. ‘The campaign is still far from over,’ a cabinet minister said after last night’s meeting with Netanyahu. ‘Whatever we don’t do now, we will have to do in six months or a year from now.’A missile is seen heading for a tower block in Gaza on Wednesday+108

An explosion rises into the sky in the early hours of this morning in Gaza+108

A missile is seen heading for a tower block in Gaza on Wednesday, left; and an explosion rises into the sky in the early hours of this morning, rightA colossal explosion erupts as an Israeli bomb blows apart a Hamas target in Gaza City on Thursday. The pattern of the smoke and debris flying through the air suggests use of a bunker buster bomb, used to destroy the vast underground networks used by the Islamist militants+108

A colossal explosion erupts as an Israeli bomb blows apart a Hamas target in Gaza City on Thursday. The pattern of the smoke and debris flying through the air suggests use of a bunker buster bomb, used to destroy the vast underground networks used by the Islamist militants An Israeli AH-64 Apache attack helicopter releases flares near Sderot, in southern Israel on the border with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip+108

An Israeli AH-64 Apache attack helicopter releases flares near Sderot, in southern Israel on the border with the Hamas-controlled Gaza StripA Palestinian protester hurls a Molotov cocktail at Israeli police forces in the West Bank city of Hebron on Wednesday night as internal violence threatens to plunge Israel into a war on two fronts+108

A Palestinian protester hurls a Molotov cocktail at Israeli police forces in the West Bank city of Hebron on Wednesday night as internal violence threatens to plunge Israel into a war on two frontsFireworks explode on the streets of Hebron in the West Bank as Palestinians riot against Israeli forces in solidarity with their brethren in the Gaza Strip+108

Fireworks explode on the streets of Hebron in the West Bank as Palestinians riot against Israeli forces in solidarity with their brethren in the Gaza StripA sequence of images shows the moment an Israeli missile speeds towards a Hamas target in Gaza City on Thursday+108

A sequence of images shows the moment an Israeli missile speeds towards a Hamas target in Gaza City on Thursday+108

A sequence of images shows the moment an Israeli missile speeds towards a Hamas target in Gaza City on ThursdayDebris and shrapnel flies through the air as the bomb explodes on a suspected Hamas compound in Gaza City on Thursday+108

Debris and shrapnel flies through the air as the bomb explodes on a suspected Hamas compound in Gaza City on Thursday+108

Debris and shrapnel flies through the air as the bomb explodes on a suspected Hamas compound in Gaza City on ThursdayPalestinians gather to pray around the bodies of 13 Hamas militants, killed in Israeli air strikes, during their funeral in at the al-Omari mosque in Gaza City, on Thursday+108

Palestinians gather to pray around the bodies of 13 Hamas militants, killed in Israeli air strikes, during their funeral in at the al-Omari mosque in Gaza City, on ThursdayIsraeli mourners attend the funeral of Israeli soldier Omer Tabib, 21, in Elyakim in northern Israel, on Thursday. Tabib was killed by an anti-tank missile near the border yesterday+108

Israeli mourners attend the funeral of Israeli soldier Omer Tabib, 21, in Elyakim in northern Israel, on Thursday. Tabib was killed by an anti-tank missile near the border yesterdaySmoke from an Israeli air strike climbs into the skies over Gaza City on Thursday as bombardments hit Hamas targets+108

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