Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with the defence minister and army chief, while Israel's military gathers its forces for an escalating ground operation in Gaza. Jillian Kitchener reports.
Through a cloud of dust, Israel sends a clear message. They're stepping up their offensive against Hamas militants in Gaza. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ISRAELI DEFENSE FORCES SPOKESPERSON, LIEUTENANT-COLONEL PETER LERNER, SAYING: "We've gone up a notch and taken it to the ground maneuvers and ground mobilization. The activity is targeting the tunnels, specifically that are on the first line of contact. And also, the rocket launchers which are being used to strike Israel in an illegitimate way, and that is why we are operating. Where it will go from here is much to be determined by Hamas and how they will respond." Last week, Hamas rejected an Egyptian-proposed ceasefire. And hundreds of rockets continue to fly toward Israel. Speaking to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Obama expressed his support for Israel's defence. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA SAYING: "I reaffirmed my strong support for Israel's right to defend itself. No nation should accept rockets being fired into its borders or terrorists tunnelling into its territory. In fact, while I was having the conversation with Prime Minister Netanyahu, sirens went off in Tel Aviv. I also made clear that the United States and our friends and allies are deeply concerned about the risks of further escalation and the loss of more innocent life." Palestinian Health officials say 35 people have been killed since Israel sent ground forces into Gaza Thursday. Israeli forces have already attacked some 150 targets. And Netanyahu warns the land advance could easily grow - with artillery, tanks and gunboats taking the lead.