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Tuesday 2 September 2014

Israeli army on standby as war in Gaza looms

Phoebe Greenwood in Gaza Damien McElory in Kiryat Malachi and Richard Spencer

Published 16/11/2012 | 05:00

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Israel has mobilised troops to its border with Gaza after rockets fired from the territory came close to hitting its commercial capital, Tel Aviv.

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At least a dozen trucks carrying tanks and armoured vehicles were seen moving toward the border area, as Israeli forces moved closer to a ground war against the radical Islamist group Hamas. Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, also approved the call-up of 30,000 reservists as the confrontation intensified.

The two rockets fell just short of Tel Aviv, the furthest they have ever reached inside Israel. One hit the town of Rishon Lezion, seven miles away, while a second fell into the sea off the coast of Jaffa, just to the south of the city. It was the first attempted attack on Tel Aviv since the Gulf War in 1991.

Israeli officials had earlier indicated a strike against Tel Aviv would be a "red line" which could trigger a ground war.

Tel Aviv had until recently been thought to be out of missile range for Gaza's militant groups.

Both attacks were claimed by Islamic Jihad, a more radical group separate from Hamas, which has political control over Gaza.

But Israeli leaders gave no sign of recognising that distinction, regarding any attack on its territory as a legitimate cause for retaliation.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, was buoyed by support from Western leaders including US President Barack Obama and the British foreign secretary, William Hague.

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