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Israel prepares for war as rockets rain down

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 16th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Israel is calling up reserve troops as Hamas continues firing rockets out of Gaza and into Israeli cities. The prospect of a full-scale war with Hamas, and possibly Egypt, looms.

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL (Catholic Online) - Israel has activated at least some 16,000 reserve troops which have been seen in armored personnel carriers and busses headed south toward the Gaza strip. In both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, air raid sirens have called residents into underground shelters.

Overhead, an unrelenting barrage of rockets fired by Hamas rains down with indiscriminate fury. So far, the missiles have killed no Israelis. Most rockets have either missed populated areas altogether or have been intercepted by the military.

Hamas claims they are retaliating for the assassination of their defense minister, as well as the continual strikes by the Israeli Air Force against some 450 targets in Gaza. Those strikes have killed several people including a pregnant woman.

An uneasy truce was declared for a few hours of Wednesday as Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil made a short visit to the region. Kandil offered Egyptian support to the Palestinians saying, "Palestine is the heart of the Arab and Muslim world and the body is not healthy while the heart is sick."

Violence resumed during the Prime Minister's visit as the two sides accused the other of breaking the truce.

So far, both sides have waged an intense mutual bombardment, however Israel may be preparing a ground offensive. Navy ships are just offshore from the Gaza strip and troops are massed along the region's borders. It is unclear if the operation dubbed, "Pillar of Defense" by the Israelis, will include an invasion, or if it is merely designed to increase the pressure on Hamas.

Hamas is believed to have an estimated 12,000 missiles at its disposal including some advanced models of Libyan and Iranian origin. Hamas may deploy these missiles at any moment.

Despite the apparent coming of war, Prime Minister Netanyahu has made it known that he prefers peace, especially with Egypt.

Despite their stated support for the Palestinians, it is unlikely the Egyptians can mount much of an attack on Israel either. Not only does their army lack technical capabilities, but the military remains in disarray after the shakeups of the past year-and-a-half.

Israel may call up to another 14,000 reservists in the days to come, should the situation escalate further.

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