Soldiers in Gaza
Soldiers in GazaIsrael news photo: Flash 90

The Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee has unanimously approved a request from Defense Minister Ehud Barak to increase the number of reserves soldiers called up for duty to 70,000.

“In light of a discussion I had this morning with the Prime Minister, I can say for sure that continuing the call-up of reservists remains relevant, and the IDF is preparing for all scenarios,” committee head MK Ronnie Bar-On (Kadima) told the committee.

During the meeting committee members heard from top military officials, among them the head of IDF intelligence.

The move to increase the scope of the IDF reserves call-up has added fuel to rumors of an impending ground operation. On Tuesday the army hit Hamas targets with artillery fire while dropping pamphlets over northern Gaza warning civilians to clear the area.

The government of Israel “faces complicated decisions regarding a ceasefire,” Bar-On said. “I wish to thank the President of Egypt for his contribution to mediation between the sides,” he added. “Continued cooperation between us and Egypt to create a base of peace and calm in the region is crucial.”

Despite its military power Israel has decided to use only surgical strikes in Gaza until this point, he noted, “while investing real effort in avoiding harm to civilians.”

However, he said, the IDF is poised to enter Gaza, “and if the order is given, the damage to terrorists in the Gaza Strip will be more thorough and more painful than what we have seen until now.”

Bar-On concluded by thanking the IDF reservists who have been called to service over the past several days. Reservists’ high motivation and willingness to sacrifice “must not be taken for granted,” he said.