Cease-Fire Or Invasion? Israel-Gaza Tension Grows

Israeli war planes struck targets across the Gaza Strip Sunday morning, as Palestinian militants fired more rockets at cities in southern Israel. The exchanges came amid talk of a possible ceasefire. Israeli military analysts say it is anyone's guess how much longer this most recent round of hostilities will continue.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We turn now to the Israeli side of the border, where sirens have been warning civilians to take cover from incoming rocket fire. It's also where the Israeli military has been gathering ground forces in preparation for a possible invasion. Despite the talk of cease-fire, analysts say it's anyone's guess how much longer this most recent round of hostilities will continue. Reporter Sheera Frenkel is on the border and she filed this report.

(SOUNDBITE OF SIRENS)

SHEERA FRENKEL, BYLINE: This morning, just north of the Gaza border, air raid sirens warned of another rocket attack. Some people run to take cover, but most stand pointing towards the sky as an interceptor missile from Israel's Iron Dome system strikes the Palestinians rockets in midair.

(SOUNDBITE OF EXPLOSION)

FRENKEL: Israeli airstrikes targeted sites across Gaza throughout the night. Israeli military spokespeople say that the strikes hit Hamas infrastructure. In Israel, two people were injured in the southern city of Ashdod this morning when a rocket hit a residential building. Three people were killed last week in the Israeli city of Kiriyat Malachi. Amos Harel is the defense analyst for the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. He says that what happens over the coming days will determine whether or not Israel expands its current operation in Gaza into a ground invasion.

AMOS HAREL: I think we'll probably know within the next 48 to 72 hours. It's either a cease-fire or a ground operation.

FRENKEL: He says that Iron Dome is playing a major role in preventing civilian casualties on the Israeli side and is allowing Israeli politicians wiggle room to negotiate a potential cease-fire agreement with Hamas. He says neither side wants to continue fighting.

HAREL: The tragedy here in a way is that there's no actual support for this in either side. Netanyahu and Barak have achieved what they can for this operation. And if they can, they'll strive for an end, for a way out. The army, no enthusiasm at all. And probably the same is true for most of the Hamas' more pragmatic leadership.

FRENKEL: Still, he adds, Israel is continuing to prepare for a ground invasion into Gaza, moving troops and artillery closer to the Gaza border. Last night, Israel's head of Southern Command spoke to reporters from a military base near the border.

MAJOR GENERAL TAL RUSSO: (Foreign language spoken)

FRENKEL: He's saying that Israel is absolutely ready to go into Gaza, if orders are given. For now, he adds, everyone is on alert. For NPR News, I'm Sheera Frenkel on the Israel-Gaza border.

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