Israel dropped leaflets on the Gaza strip today warning inhabitants of an escalation in the 2-week offensive against Hamas militants, the BBC reports. The leaflets assured civilians that the action was against “Hamas and the terrorists only” and urged people to stay away from military targets. The development could signal a deeper incursion by Israeli ground forces into Gazan cities and refugee camps, the BBC notes.
One phone message in Arabic from the Israelis said the “third stage” of the offensive would begin soon. In continued violence today, an Israeli tank killed eight people, likely civilians, while Hamas rockets fired over the border injured two Israelis in Ashkelon. Representatives from both Hamas and Fatah are meeting in Egypt to discuss a ceasefire, which Fatah cannot easily effect and Israel and Hamas will likely oppose.