Public Security Minister Yitzchak Aharonovitch told journalists at a briefing in Ashdod Friday morning the IDF is preparing plans for the option of a ground invasion into Gaza after further military escalations by Hamas.
The statement came following a missile attack that scored a direct hit on a gas station in the Mediterranean port city earlier on, striking a fuel truck. The resulting explosion left one man critically wounded and two others moderately to lightly injured.
“This is a complex conflict and we are hitting them hard,” Aharonovitch said. “We are preparing for the option of a ground incursion,” he warned. “Everyone should follow the instructions of the Home Front Command.”
Late Thursday Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ended a marathon security cabinet meeting with the announcement that Operation Protective Edge is proceeding as planned. “More stages are coming,” he promised, without revealing what those might be, or when they would be carried out.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz likewise were mum on the subject, backing the prime minister in reassuring Israelis that everything was going according to plan — but revealing little else.
In Tel Aviv, three M75 missiles were shot down directly over the metropolitan area by the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system, the shrapnel from the interception dropping directly on to the city from the skies.
Israeli police patrolled the streets of Tel Aviv in an effort to keep curious residents from touching the sharp metal, some of which may have had chemical agents sprayed on to it.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said officers remained on site to prevent residents from hurting themselves.
No injuries were reported in the attack itself.
In Jerusalem, police blocked entry for Friday prayers at the Temple Mount in the Old City for all Muslims other than women of any age, and males age 50 and older who were carrying Israeli identity cards.
Security forces remained on alert at the site and prepared to deal with any outbreaks of violence, which often take place due to incitement during sermons in the mosque at Friday prayers. Friday is the Islamic Sabbath.