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Israel calls up 16,000 reservists to boost Gaza operations

July 31, 2014 10:21 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 1, 2014 12:41 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (AFP) -- Israel mobilized 16,000 additional reservists on Thursday to bolster its forces waging military operations in the Gaza Strip that left more than 100 Palestinians dead in a day.

The call-up came after Washington announced it had agreed to restock Israel's dwindling supplies of ammunition despite its sharp condemnation of an attack on a United Nations school in Gaza blamed on Israel's army.

"The army has issued 16,000 additional mobilization orders to allow troops on the ground to rest, which takes the total number of reservists to 86,000," an army spokeswoman said.

Israel's security cabinet, which met for five hours Wednesday, unanimously decided to pursue attacks against Hamas "terrorist targets" and other operations to destroy a network of tunnels used by the Islamist movement between Gaza and Israel, public radio said.

Public radio quoted Major General Sami Turgeman, the senior officer for the Gaza region, as saying that the destruction of militants' remaining tunnels into Israel could be complete "in a few days".

More than 100 Palestinians died in the Gaza Strip Wednesday, among them the victims of Israeli fire on a market and the UN school where Palestinians fleeing the fighting had sought refuge.

Despite the loss of life, there appeared to be little Israeli appetite for a truce, with a senior official telling Haaretz newspaper that Israel was not even close to a ceasefire.

"When a ceasefire proposal that answers Israel's important needs is laid on the table, it will be considered," he said, warning that the military operation would expand.

"The (military) will expand attacks against Hamas and the rest of the terror organizations."

Nevertheless, a two-member Israeli delegation travelled to Cairo late Wednesday to discuss a possible ceasefire with Egyptian officials, an official at the airport told AFP, saying they were expected to leave after several hours.

Cairo, a key mediator in previous truce negotiations between Israel and Hamas, was also expected to host a Palestinian delegation later this week.
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