Israel 'readies Gaza options, including ground assault'

AFP
Israeli soldiers stand on Merkava tanks in an army deployment area near the border with the Gaza Strip, on July 8, 2014
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Israeli soldiers stand on Merkava tanks in an army deployment area near the border with the Gaza Strip, on July 8, 2014 (AFP Photo/Jack Guez)

Jerusalem (AFP) - The Israeli army is preparing all options for stamping out militant rocket fire from Gaza, including a ground assault, a senior official said on Tuesday.

"The army is preparing for all possible scenarios, including an invasion or a ground operation," the official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Another official had earlier confirmed the army had received instructions "to prepare different military alternatives in order to be ready in case of need."

Earlier on Tuesday, the Israeli military announced the start of a new campaign called Operation Protective Edge aimed at stamping out rocket fire on southern Israel and destroying Hamas's military infrastructure.

Overnight, the air force and the navy struck more than 50 targets across Gaza, wounding 22 people, medics said, with air strikes continuing into the morning.

An air strike on the central Gaza Strip killed a Palestinian on Tuesday, an emergency services spokesman said.

Witnesses said he was a member of the armed wing of Hamas.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was expected to meet top military officials during the afternoon for a meeting at which he was expected to order a "significant broadening" of the operation and instruct the military to "take off the gloves," a source close to him told army radio.