Israel escalated its attacks on the Gaza Strip on Friday, but a military spokesperson walked back an earlier claim that ground troops had invaded. Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said initially that “there are ground troops attacking in Gaza,” but he later clarified that no such troops had entered Gaza, reports the New York Times. "There are currently no IDF ground troops inside the Gaza Strip," said another spokesperson, per the Washington Post. The troops appear to be close, however. The Wall Street Journal quotes Conricus as saying that "there are ground forces currently deployed along the border area and they are engaging and attacking the Gaza Strip from there." On Thursday, Israel called up 7,000 military reservists and canceled leaves for troops in combat units.
"I said that we would charge a very heavy price from Hamas and the rest of the terrorist organizations," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. "This operation will continue as long as it takes to restore peace and security to the State of Israel." Fewer than 4,000 troops had been moved to the border, which would suggest something less than a full invasion, should one materialize, per the Journal. Israel had at least three brigades of troops ready, however. A 2014 invasion, thought to be the most recent by Israeli troops, left more than 2,000 Palestinians dead. Gaza's Health Ministry reported that as of Thursday night, 109 Palestinians, 28 of them children, had been killed, while 621 people have been wounded in the attacks. (Fears of a fourth war are rising.)