Israeli defense officials passed the word to foreign news agencies Thursday, July 3, that troop reinforcements had been sent to the Gaza Strip border amid intensifying Palestinian rocket barrages. debkafile’s military sources report that the reinforcements almost certainly included tanks and self-propelled artillery.
A military official added that the Israeli Navy had reinforced its war fleet opposite Gaza’s Mediterranean coast, and the Home Front Command had raised the national level of alert
While highly reluctant to embark on a major offensive against Hamas in its Gaza stronghold, the Israeli government could scarcely continue to avoid real action after 30 rockets were aimed on the same day, July 2, against Ashkelon, Netivot, Sdot Negev, Sderot, Kerem Shalom and the Eshkol District. Three slammed Thursday morning into houses in Sderot, causing heavy damage but no casualties.
The IDF clearly expects the Gaza missile barrage to widen out from targets in southern Israel to towns further north.
Tensions are also simmering in Jerusalem over the suspected revenge killing of a Palestinian boy, with further violent Palestinian outbreaks expected to accompany his funeral later Thursday.
The various sources said that, by passing word of a military buildup, Israel was most likely broadcasting a grave warning to Hamas to stop the missile barrage or else the IDF would step in for a wider operation than heretofore to achieve this purpose. Thus far, Hamas has not been persuaded by Israeli air strikes to rein in its own or fellow terrorist organizations shooting rockets at Israel.