Middle East

Envoy: US backs ground operation in Gaza if necessary

Israeli soldiers gather next to tanks at a staging area on the Israel-Gaza border, Friday, July 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

BEIRUT: The U.S. ambassador to Israel told Israeli army radio that his country would support a ground operation in the Gaza Strip if it were necessary to stop rocket attacks on the Jewish state.

"No one wants a ground operation, and we want that Hamas would stop sending the missiles and rockets. But in any case, Israel has full American backing," Dan Shapiro said in a Friday interview with the radio station, according to Israeli TV station Arutz Sheva's website.

Israel pressed forward with a fourth day of its offensive on the Gaza Strip Friday, while the Gaza Health Ministry reported the death toll among Palestinians had risen to 100.

Israel has launched hundreds of airstrikes on the tiny Palestinian enclave over the last several days, in what it says is an attempt to end increasing rocket fire from Palestinian militants. Israel has called up tens of thousands of reservists, who remain positioned at the border with Gaza pending any decision to begin a ground invasion.

Hamas' military wing had claimed a number of the rocket attacks on Israel, which so far have only resulted in minor casualties and damage, with most attacks being shot down by Israel's Iron Dome defense system.





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