Amid mounting international concern over civilian casualties and demands for an immediate cease-fire, Israeli Prime Minister
Speaking at the start of a cabinet meeting held in a rocket-proof room at the defense ministry in Tel-Aviv, Netanyahu said Israel was "determined to complete this mission, with or without a cease-fire."
International efforts to secure a truce -- which would afford time for indirect negotiations for a more permanent arrangement -- have so far failed.
Netanyahu's televised comments shared headlines with news of a fresh round of rockets and mortars launched from Gaza on Thursday morning and an Israeli airstrike targeting what the army said was a group of five militants. Palestinians reported that heavy shelling resumed in Gaza before noon, and that military ground forces had pushed deeper into the coastal strip overnight.
As fighting in Gaza enters its 24th day, the war becomes the longest fought between Israel and
International organizations warn of an impending large-scale humanitarian disaster in Gaza, where hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced. UNWRA spokesman Chris Gunness tweeted that the organization was overwhelmed and has "reached breaking point" with shelters overflowing and staff being killed.
Israel's military was set to call up 16,000 more army reserves Thursday, boosting reserve forces to 86,000 troops -- U.S. defense officials confirmed to CNN that they had approved an Israeli request for resupply of munitions from American stockpiles kept in Israel.
In a phone conversation with his Israeli counterpart Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of Defense
The stated objective of the military offensive Israel launched three weeks ago was curbing rocket fire into Israel and restoring calm to its residents. An extensive network of underground tunnels used to funnel armed militants into Israel has since become the main focus of the operation, alongside exacting a heavy price from Hamas.
Israel has inflicted "unprecedented damage" on Hamas, defense minister Moshe Yaalon said Thursday, adding that the organization was concealing the scope of its losses.