Israeli Defense Forces on Thursday warned residents of Gaza Strip to evacuate the area ahead of military action, but Hamas told them to stay.
Hamas intends to use the civilians as shields, to create indecision among Israeli troops. If any civilians are hurt, Hamas will complain to Western media.
But complaints about civilian casualties are suspect coming from a group that fires rockets indiscriminately.
Hamas in trouble
Despite fiery statements issued by Hamas spokesmen over the past 48 hours, it was obvious Tuesday night that the Islamist movement was searching for ways to rid itself of the current escalation.
Hamas offered to trade hostages it holds for an end to the Israeli counterattack.
The massive Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip over the past 24 hours have surprised Hamas and other Palestinian groups. Hamas apparently expected a limited response to the recent rocket attacks on Israeli cities and towns. But as the IDF intensified its strikes against Hamas targets – including the homes of some of its top commanders – it became clear to the movement’s leaders that Israel means business.
Israel masses forces
Israel called up 40,000 reservists in preparation for a ground assault on the area. Here they prepare tanks and other vehicles for a ground assault: