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Gaza invasion will happen soon, Israeli officials indicate

Smoke and flames are seen following what police said was an Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

REUTERS/Stringer

Smoke and flames are seen following what police said was an Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli leaders are signaling that a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip could be quickly approaching. Israel’s intelligence minister told Israel Radio that his country ‘‘will have to take over Gaza temporarily, for a few weeks.’’

For a second day today, Israel today struck targets in Gaza as part of what Israel says is an effort to stop rocket attacks. Palestinian officials say more than 20 people were killed.

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Militants in Gaza, meanwhile, continue to fire rocket salvos deep into Israeli territory.

Israel now has thousands of troops along the Gaza border ahead of a possible ground operation. But despite the tough threats, Israeli security officials are still hesitant about ordering a ground invasion due to the many risks. The invasion could bring heavy civilian casualties on the Palestinian side, while putting Israeli ground forces in danger.

Of the 49 people who Palestinian medics say have been killed in Gaza since the Israeli operation began, medical officials have confirmed at least 15 are civilians and 10 are militants. There’s no definitive word on the others. The rocket fire from Gaza, meanwhile, hasn’t caused any serious Israeli casualties.

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