Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported that three Palestinians were killed, on Thursday at dawn, while at least 15 were injured in a fresh wave of Israeli attacks against the coastal region. Israel said a ground invasion on Gaza “is only a matter time”. Israeli sources said that three Israelis killed early Thursday.11 Palestinians, including children, have been killed, and more than 100 have been injured, since Israel launched its offensive on Saturday evening.

Three Palestinians were assassinated in Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, one of them was a Police lieutenant identified as Habis Masmah, 30.

He was killed after the army fired a missile at him while driving his motorcycle near the zoo east of Khan Younis; his body was severely mutilated.

Two fighters of the al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas were killed, and several residents were wounded in the attack; the slain fighters have been identified as Wael Haidar al-Ghalbaan, and Hisham Mohammad al-Ghalbaan.

Five Palestinians, including a pregnant woman and three children, were also injured when the army bombarded a home east of Gaza City; all were moved to ash-Shifa Hospital.

Four Palestinians, including one woman, were injured when the army bombarded Beit Lahia town, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

Medical sources in Gaza reported that the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli shells in the latest escalation arrived to 11 while at least 100 residents have been injured.

The Israeli army carried out more than 80 air strikes against different parts of the Gaza Strip, in addition to using heavy artillery and tanks shells.

The slain Palestinians have been identified as Ahmad al-Ja’bary, 52, (leader of the al-Qassam Brigades of Hamas); his deputy, Mohammad al-Hamss, 30; Ranaan Yousef Arafat, 3; Mohammad Hani Kaseeh, 18; Isam Mahmoud Abu al-Ma’za, 19; Hiba Adel al-Mash-Harawi (six months pregnant), 19; Omar Jihad al-Mash-Harawi, 11 months; Mahmoud Abu Sawaween, 65; Habes Masmah, 30; Wael Haidar al-Ghalbaan and Hisham Mohammad al-Ghalbaan.

Meanwhile, Israeli sources reported that three Israelis were killed, early on Thursday, when Palestinian shells hit two buildings in Kiryat Malachi settlement, two children were injured.

Israeli military sources reported that Israeli paratroopers and members of the Givati Brigade of the Israeli military are heading towards the border with Gaza, the Palestine News Network (PNN) reported.

Senior Israeli military officials stated that the Israeli army “will do whatever is needed to restore calm to Israeli towns in the south”.

They added that the army the Givati Brigade, and paratroopers, held training over the last few months in preparation for an anticipated and potential ground offensive against Gaza.

The military commanders said that invading Gaza is only a matter of time, and that this invasion will be a determining factor as it will conclude the current operation against Gaza.

They further stated that the scale of this ground offensive will be much larger and wider than the three-week Operation Cast Lead that was carried out against Gaza starting on December 28, 2008, leading to the death of more than 1,419 Palestinians; thousands of residents were injured, including scores of wounded residents who died of their wounds later on.

The vast majority of the casualties were civilians, including infants, children, women and medics.

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, addressed the Israelis on TV on Wednesday, telling the public that Israel is prepared and ready to expand its offensive against Gaza, referring to the possibility of a large-scale ground invasion.

Meanwhile, the al-Qassam Brigades of Hamas, announced that, for the first time, it managed to fire a locally-made shell into Tel Aviv and said that the shelling comes in retaliation for the assassination of its leader Ahmad al-Ja’bari.

The Brigades added that it fired more than 89 shells into southern Israel, while several resistance groups also claimed responsibility for firing shells into adjacent Israeli areas, including Be’er As-Sabe’ (Bir Shiva), Asqalan (Ashkelon) Rahovot and several other areas.

The Brigades said that it fired a missile into Rahovot, south of Tel Aviv, leading to a two-hour power outage; Israel did not confirm or deny the issue.

The escalation against Gaza started when the Israeli army invaded, on November 8, an area near Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip and killed a 13-year-old child identified as Ahmad Abu Zaqqa, while he was playing football with his friends.

Two days after the killing of the child, Palestinian resistance fighters attacked an Israeli military patrol, Israel then started firing missile into civilian areas in Gaza killing four more Palestinians, including two children playing football.

The situation continued to escalate leading to a large number of civilian casualties among the civilian population.