RAW VISION: Explosion over Gaza
Watch and listen to a large explosion over Gaza in the early hours of Saturday morning, which is believed to have struck a Hamas compound. Please note: the explosion repeats three times.PT0M54S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-29img 620 349 November 17, 2012
Gaza City: Israel's government has approved the mobilisation of as many as 75,000 army reservists after a long-range missile fired from Gaza landed in an outlying Jerusalem suburb, setting off air raid sirens across the holy city but causing no casualties.
Bringing the possibility of a ground offensive in Gaza one step closer, the Israeli Defence Forces confirmed that a rocket struck an area on Jerusalem's outskirts – believed to be the Gush Etzion settlement.
It is the first Palestinian-fired missile to land near the city since 1970.
Attacks escalate on the Israel-Gaza border
Palestinians inspect the destroyed office building of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya in Gaza City. Photo: AFP
More tanks and APCs were seen moving towards Israel's southern border with Gaza, while the IDF announced that the main highway leading to the Gaza Strip and the two roads bordering it would be closed to civilian traffic indefinitely.
The IDF chief of staff, Lt General Benny Gantz addressed soldiers massed in the country's south, saying: "We are here tonight on the eve of a possible ground operation.
"This is not our first time in Gaza. We have been through a few days with very significant attacks on the scale of hundreds of daily targets, and have struck with great force and precision."
Late on Friday, the IDF announced it had targeted two more senior Hamas operatives - Muhammad Abu-Jalal, a Hamas company commander in Al-Muazi, as well as Khaled Shah'yer, a senior operative involved in the rocket launch array.
As the conflict rode out a third day, the IDF said about 550 rockets had been fired from Gaza since the start of its military offensive on Wednesday, while Israel had hit more than 600 targets in the same period.
Hamas claimed responsibility for launching the missile, which it described as “an improved Qassam” called an M-75.
Israeli defence officials say the only rockets in Gaza with a range that can reach as far as Tel Aviv or Jerusalem are the Iranian-made Fajr-5 missiles, believed to be part of a supply of weapons from Libya smuggled across the Gaza-Egypt border.
“We believe we have caused severe damage to the Fajr-5 capabilities,” said IDF spokeswoman Avital Leibovich, confirming Israel has been targeting missile stores in its hundreds of airstrikes on Gaza over the last three days.
Jerusalem, which both Israelis and Palestinians consider their capital, is holy to the Islamic, Jewish and Christian faiths, and lies about 80 kilometres from Gaza, the maximum reach of the militant's most powerful missiles.
Despite Israel's promise of a lull in its air strikes during Friday's visit to Gaza by the Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandi (if Gaza's militants suspended their rocket fire), the truce did not take hold.
Militants in Gaza fired at least 165 rockets into southern Israeli towns, 99 of them reportedly intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system and Israel responded with a series of airstrikes in central and southern Gaza.
It says it has prepared the residents of Gaza for a renewed onslaught with text messages and the distribution of leaflets throughout the strip warning residents to say away from known Hamas-associated buildings.
“For your own safety, take responsibility for yourselves and avoid being present in the vicinity of Hamas operatives and facilities and those of other terror organisations that pose a risk to your safety,” the leaflets read.
Meanwhile, sirens sounded in Israel's commercial capital Tel Aviv for a second day and city authorities announced they were opening bomb shelters in preparation for further hostilities.
Mr Qandil denounced Israel's actions and told Gazans on his visit: "Egypt will spare no effort ... to stop the aggression and to achieve a truce."
Amid the chaos, many Israelis and Gazans were fleeing to safer ground.
In Kibbutz Re'im, just 4.7 kilometres from Gaza, community leaders were urging families with young children to find a safe haven, said resident Micky Keidar, 43, who left with his wife and two children on Friday.
“The day after the Hamas military leader was killed … we knew all hell was going to break loose,” Mr Keidar said.
Because the kibbutz is 200 metres outside the zone where the Government funds safe rooms in each house, residents were forced to sleep in one of the few reinforced buildings onsite – the kindergarten.
“There were so many alarms every night [alerting residents to incoming rocket fire] that we could not count them all,” he said.
“Because we are so close to the border we hear alarms all around us, we hear the bombs falling on each side of the border and the Iron Dome intercepting the rockets … it is relentless.”
Mr Keidar said while he was pleased the government was taking action against the constant rocket strikes, any loss of life on either side “makes no sense to me”.
At least 28 Palestinians – 10 of them civilians and three Israeli civilians have been killed in the conflict so far.