Israel has begun moving troops toward the Gaza Strip and authorised the call-up of reservists for a possible ground invasion of the Palestinian territory.
At least a dozen trucks carrying tanks and armoured vehicles were seen late Thursday moving toward the border area, while buses ferried soldiers.
Defence Minister Ehud Barak announced that he had authorised the army to draft reserve forces for possible activity in Gaza. The army said it was prepared to draft up to 30,000 additional troops.
"I ordered the military today to widen the draft of reserve soldiers in order to be able to be ready for any development," Barak said. Military officials said the moves were to prepare for the possibility of a ground invasion, but stressed no decision had been made. Israel TV stations, however, said a ground offensive was expected Friday.
Israel's air force launched an offensive against Gaza militants on Wednesday. But continued rocket fire out of Gaza on Thursday has raised the likelihood of a ground invasion.