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Heavy shelling along Gaza border as Israel prepares for ground operation (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

Published time: November 17, 2012 05:38
Edited time: November 17, 2012 18:39

Israeli soldiers take position on Israel's border with the Gaza Strip on November 17, 2012 (AFP Photo / Menahem Kahana)

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The Israeli Defense Force is preparing for a ground operation in Gaza, as Operation Pillar of Defense continues for a fourth day. Some 75,000 army reservists have been called up to prepare the offensive.

“The Israeli Defense Forces have sealed off roads around Gaza, declaring the area a closed military zone. This is just another suggestion that a ground offensive may be imminent,” RT correspondent Paula Slier, who is in Tel Aviv, told RT. ­

Israel bombed 85 sites in Gaza overnight, including Hamas’ headquarters. Witnesses at the scene reported massive damage from the strikes.

There were two series of strikes overnight: one at around 3am local time (01:00 GMT), and another at 5am (03:00 GMT).

Activists reported that bodies were under the rubble of a house hit by the strike in Jabalia, situated in Gaza’s north.

During the second string of strikes the Hamas leadership’s buildings were hit, but they are said to have been empty.

The violence is showing no signs of ending anytime soon.

“There continues to be heavy shelling from tanks along the border into Gaza,” Slier said.

At least 39 Palestinians have already been killed in the assault that has been going on for four days, Ma'an news agency reported. Seven of the casualties were children. Three Israeli citizens also died in the violence.

A Palestinian Hamas security member inspects the destroyed office building of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya in Gaza City on November 17, 2012 (AFP Photo / Mahmud Hams)
A Palestinian Hamas security member inspects the destroyed office building of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya in Gaza City on November 17, 2012 (AFP Photo / Mahmud Hams)

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Alex Selsky said the government “will do everything needed to target terrorists – only terrorists – to stop the firing of rockets on Israeli cities, schools, and children.”

But as airstrikes continue in densely-populated Gaza, many say targeted attacks are simply not possible.

“If you talk to people on ground, everyone points to fact that this can’t be a completely targeted operation. Most of those who have died are civilians,” Slier said.

The international community is pushing up efforts to deal with the situation.

The Tunisian foreign minister is currently in Gaza to show his support for Hamas, and the Arab League will gather for a meeting later on Saturday.

Meanwhile, anti-Israel protests have taken place across the world, with demonstrators gathering to support Gaza in Egypt, Iran, and the West Bank.

A Palestinian man looks for injured people in the rubble following an Israeli air raid on a house in Beit Lahia, the northern Gaza Strip on November 17, 2012 (AFP Photo / Mohammed Abed)
A Palestinian man looks for injured people in the rubble following an Israeli air raid on a house in Beit Lahia, the northern Gaza Strip on November 17, 2012 (AFP Photo / Mohammed Abed)
A Palestinian looks from his damaged house at the destroyed office building of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh after Israeli air strikes in Gaza City November 17, 2012 (Reuters / Suhaib Salem)
A Palestinian looks from his damaged house at the destroyed office building of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh after Israeli air strikes in Gaza City November 17, 2012 (Reuters / Suhaib Salem)
An injured Palestinian child lies on a hospital bed following an Israeli air raid in Beit Lahia, the northern Gaza Strip on November 17, 2012 (AFP Photo / Mohammed Abed)
An injured Palestinian child lies on a hospital bed following an Israeli air raid in Beit Lahia, the northern Gaza Strip on November 17, 2012 (AFP Photo / Mohammed Abed)
Palestinian paramedics assist an injured woman following an Israeli air raid on a house in Beit Lahia, the northern Gaza Strip on November 17, 2012 (AFP Photo / Mohammed Abed)
Palestinian paramedics assist an injured woman following an Israeli air raid on a house in Beit Lahia, the northern Gaza Strip on November 17, 2012 (AFP Photo / Mohammed Abed)
Palestinian firefighters and rescue personnel work at a blast site following an Israeli air raid in Gaza City on November 17, 2012 (AFP Photo / Marco Longari)
Palestinian firefighters and rescue personnel work at a blast site following an Israeli air raid in Gaza City on November 17, 2012 (AFP Photo / Marco Longari)
Palestinians inspect the destroyed office building of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya in Gaza City on November 17, 2012 (AFP Photo / Mahmud Hams)
Palestinians inspect the destroyed office building of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya in Gaza City on November 17, 2012 (AFP Photo / Mahmud Hams)
A wounded Palestinian girl lies on a hospital bed after an Israeli air strike in the northern Gaza Strip November 17, 2012 (Reuters / Ali Hassan)
A wounded Palestinian girl lies on a hospital bed after an Israeli air strike in the northern Gaza Strip November 17, 2012 (Reuters / Ali Hassan)
A Palestinian Hamas policeman looks at an Israeli rocket in the street in Gaza City on November 17, 2012 (AFP Photo / Mahmud Hams)
A Palestinian Hamas policeman looks at an Israeli rocket in the street in Gaza City on November 17, 2012 (AFP Photo / Mahmud Hams)
A wounded Hamas policeman guards the destroyed office building of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh after Israeli air strikes in Gaza City November 17, 2012 (Reuters / Suhaib Salem)
A wounded Hamas policeman guards the destroyed office building of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh after Israeli air strikes in Gaza City November 17, 2012 (Reuters / Suhaib Salem)

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