Israeli airstrikes hit approximately fifty sites overnight in the Gaza Strip, leaving at least several people dead and scores wounded, as fears grow inside the walled-off Palestinian enclave that a ground invasion could soon follow.
Dubbed 'Operation Protective Edge,' Israel justified its use of warplanes, drones, and missiles as a response to a volley of crude rockets launched from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel by Palestinian fighters over recent days.
Israel announced Tuesday that it is giving the military permission to mobilize an addition 40,000 reservists and emphasized that a ground invasion is an option but not a foregone conclusion.
The new overall tensions between the Israeli and Palestinians living under occupation follows the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers last month which resulted in a widespread military crackdown in the West Bank and the subsequent 'revenge' murder of a Palestinian teen in East Jerusalem last week.
The Israeli government has put the blame for the murder of the Israeli teens squarely on the Hamas government which controls the Gaza Strip. However, many are criticizing Israel's heavy-handed response to recent events as a form of "collective punishment" against Palestinians for the crimes of only a few. Many fear the military escalation on the border—reminiscent of buildups that preceded deadly assaults on Gaza in both 2009 and 2012—could now be underway.
On Twitter, the hashtag #GazaUnderAttack is being used to share updates, images and commentary of the escalating situation:
"We are entering into a long operation," a senior IDF source told the Guardian newspaper. "We are only at the start. Patience is required. We are preparing further steps and a gradual expansion of our order of battle."
And according to Reuters, a source in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office quoted the Israeli leader as saying: "The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) must be ready to go all the way. All options are on the table, including a ground invasion."