Israel Threatens Ground Troops, Escalation in Gaza after Weekend Strikes

A Palestinian woman collects items from her home following an Israeli military air strike in Rafah town in the southern Gaza Strip Photo: AFT/GETTY IMAGES

Israel Threatens Ground Troops, Escalation in Gaza after Weekend Strikes

Tensions between Israel and Gaza have intensified once again, as Israeli officials opened up the possibility of a ground troop invasion in the occupied territory.

Cross border fire exchanges escalated over the weekend following the death of a 13-year-old Palestinian boy, who was shot dead by gunfire from an Israeli helicopter, leading to an increase in retaliatory attacks including cross border rocket fire from groups in Gaza.

Though no deaths were reported in Israel, Israeli forces conducted expansive airstrikes in Gaza Sunday night, killing six people, including four citizens, and injuring 35 others.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Sunday that Gaza will "pay the heavy price" for fighting back.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu planned a Monday meeting with foreign ambassadors in a bid to gain international support for further Israeli military actions, according to an official.

At a cabinet meeting on Sunday morning Netanyahu stated: "We are prepared to intensify the response."

One unnamed senior Israeli government official, said: "A ground incursion is certainly not out of the question."

The series of events resembles a similar escalation in 2008, which lead to an Israeli offensive, Operation Cast Lead, which included a week of bombing and shelling in Gaza. Ground troops were also deployed during the operation which took the lives of 1,400 Palestinians, the majority of whom were civilians.

On Sunday, US Ambassador Dan Shapiro expressed backing for Israel, writing on his Facebook page that "the United States supports Israel's right to defend itself."

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