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Israeli Cabinet Approves Reserve Call-Up Of 75,000


Israeli tanks stationed at the Israeli-Gaza Strip border on November 16
Israel's cabinet has approved the call-up of 75,000 reserve members of the armed forces as indications grow Israel is preparing to launch a ground operation into Gaza.

The announcement at a November 16 cabinet session came after the armed wing of the Islamist group Hamas said it fired a rocket toward Jerusalem.

Israeli warplanes continued to pound Hamas targets in Gaza into the morning of November 17, striking Hamas government and security compounds, smuggling tunnels, and electricity sources, as well as hitting weapons storage facilities and underground rocket-launching sites.

Since November 14, when an Israeli air strike killed Hamas commander Ahmed al-Jaabari, Hamas has launched some 500 rockets into Israel and Israel's military has carried out more than 700 strikes on suspected Hamas targets in Gaza.

During a brief visit by Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil to Gaza early on November 16, Qandil lent his country's support to the people of Gaza.

"Egypt will not hesitate to intensify its efforts and make sacrifices to stop this aggression and achieve a lasting truce," he said.

Also on November 16, Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi called Israel's action an "aggression against humanity."

Ahead of Qandil's arrival, Israel said it would halt its military operation against militants in the territory governed by the Islamic group Hamas for the duration of the visit.

Later, Israel denied Palestinian accusations that it had continued its attacks during the cease-fire, while the news agency AP reported militants fired more than 60 rockets into Israel after Qandil arrived in Gaza.

At least 18 Palestinians, including some children, have reportedly been killed since Israel began its operation in Gaza on November 14 in response to rocket attacks by militants.

Three Israelis also died on November 15 in a rocket attack that hit their apartment building.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Israel and Hamas to "stop this dangerous escalation" in the Gaza Strip to avoid further bloodshed in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said the “secretary-general is extremely concerned about the continued violence in Gaza and Israel, and deeply worried by the rising cost in terms of civilian lives."

Nesirky added that Ban plans to visit the region shortly.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and AP
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