Operation Pillar of Defense entered its third day on Friday, and the Israel Defense Forces were preparing for a ground assault in Gaza by calling up thousands of reservists. The reservists will be joining the soldiers already moving toward Gaza, after IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz instructed forces to accelerate preparations for a ground operation. So far, 16,000 reservists have been sent voice messages telling them to report for duty.
In the meantime, the IDF struck dozens of targets in Gaza from the air and sea on Thursday and well into Friday. During the day, the government denied reports of a cease-fire, with one senior official saying "There is no talk of that at this point. We are continuing the operation and not discussing an exit strategy."
Army Radio reported on Friday, however, that Israel agreed to halt all offensive operations during a visit to Gaza by Egypt's prime minister, Hesham Kandil. However, once rockets were fired from the Strip, the temporary ceasefire was suspended.
On Friday, a ground assault seemed imminent as infantry, tank and artillery units amassed close to the Gaza border.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a meeting with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Thursday and later met with Homefront Defense Minister Avi Dichter, Israel Security Agency (ISA) chief Yoram Cohen and IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, to discuss the situation in Gaza and how to proceed with the operation.
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