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Fri 16 Nov 2012 10:51 AM

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Israel drafts 16,000 reserve troops as tensions rise

Military's move is sign that violence could escalate further with Palestinian militants in Gaza

Israel drafts 16,000 reserve troops as tensions rise
(Getty Images - photo for illustrative purposes only)

Israel has started drafting 16,000 reserve troops, the military said on Friday, in a sign that violence could escalate further with Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

Israel's two-day assault on Gaza has largely been from the air, but officials have said a ground incursion could be necessary to stem rocket fire into southern Israel.

Israel's army would be heavily dependent on reservists to fight any prolonged war. The military has received a green light to call in up to 30,000 reserve troops.

The Israeli air strikes have so far killed 19 Palestinians, including seven militants and 12 civilians, among them six children and a pregnant woman. A Hamas rocket killed three Israelis in the town of Kiryat Malachi on Thursday morning.