Israeli soldiers with armored vehicles gather at a staging ground near the border with the Gaza Strip, southern Israel, Friday, May 14.
Israel has added ground troops to its offensive against Palestinian militants, escalating fears the five-day old conflict could escalate into all-out war.
The sides continued to exchange fire Friday, with the militant group Hamas launching rockets into Israel, and Israel carrying out artillery and airstrikes against the Palestinian-controlled Gaza Strip.
An Israeli military spokesman said Israel has used 160 warplanes and three brigades of ground troops and their tanks in the attack.
Earlier, Israel Defense Forces had tweeted that its troops were “currently attacking in the Gaza Strip.” But later, citing an internal miscommunication, it clarified that the troops were firing artillery from inside Israel.
Lt. Jonathan Conricus said the focus of Israel’s attack on Gaza was the elaborate system of tunnels that Hamas has built over the years.
Gaza residents near the border with Israel confirmed to Reuters they had seen no sign of Israeli ground forces inside the enclave, but they reported heavy artillery fire and dozens of airstrikes.
As the violence entered its fifth day, the U.N. Security Council announced it agreed to convene Sunday to discuss the situation, after plans to secure a meeting were delayed by concerns from the United States.