IDF Chiefs to brief Netanyahu on Gaza escalation

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with the Defence Minister and the Israeli Chief of Staff and senior officers at 10am to assess the situation in Gaza.

The Security Cabinet will meet at 2pm. Although Israeli forces have launched more than 150 strikes in Gaza, the Government is likely to authorise more attacks on Hamas military targets but not expected to authorise a wider military operation in Gaza.

On Thursday morning, the IDF restricted agricultural work near the Gaza border and Israel Railways cancelled all services from Ashkelon to Sderot. In the event of a widespread military operation the Israeli army would  evacuate communities in Southern Israel.

The Israeli military has deployed additional Iron Dome batteries to Southern Israel in anticipation of Hamas launching longer range missiles and targeting Israeli towns and cities.

A Palestinian source told Kan Radio News that Egypt tried to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas overnight, following the attacks. The source was quoted as saying that UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, was also involved in the efforts to secure a ceasefire agreement.

Mladenov released a statement late Wednesday night saying: “I am deeply alarmed by the recent escalation particularly by today’s multiple rockets fired towards communities in southern Israel… If the current escalation however is not contained immediately, the situation can rapidly deteriorate with devastating consequences for all people”

Jason Greenblatt, US Special Representative for International Negotiation wrote said last nigh that the: “Hamas regime again is launching rockets at Israeli communities. Another night of terror and families huddling in fear as Israel defends itself. This is the Hamas regime’s choice. Hamas is subjecting people to the terrifying conditions of war again.”

Alex Fishman in Yediot Ahronot writes that “this is exactly how wars erupt from one moment to the next: unintentionally, unwantedly and without any real reason.” At the same time, Fishman writes that “the working assumption within the IDF is that Hamas does not want an all-out conflagration at the current juncture in time and that Hamas is likely to continue to act with restraint”.