Israel says it may widen its military operation against Hamas if air strikes do not stop the Palestinian militant group firing rockets from the Gaza Strip.
Israel is launching air strikes on Gaza for a second successive day, piling pressure on Hamas after at least 225 people, according to Palestinian officials, were killed in one of the bloodiest 24 hours for Palestinians in 60 years of conflict with the Jewish state.
Israel's Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, says his country will send ground forces into the Gaza Strip if the air strikes do not result in a change of behaviour from Hamas.
"We are ready for anything. If it's necessary to deploy ground forces to defend our citizens, we will do so," Mr Barak's spokesman quoted him as saying.
Israeli television reported the army had begun concentrating ground forces near the tiny Palestinian enclave.
Meanwhile, United Nations Security Council members are said to be discussing a statement calling for a cease-fire.
The Security Council is reported to be weighing a statement put forward by Russia expressing "serious concern at the escalation of the situation" in Gaza and urging Israel to "halt its military operations in Gaza".
The statement would also call for an "immediate cessation of rocket attacks on the Israeli territory from Gaza" and for "an immediate opening of the border crossings into Gaza for an unrestricted humanitarian access, including supplies of food, fuel and provision of medical treatment."
Israel imposed a blockade after Hamas seized power in Gaza last year, but let in dozens of truckloads of humanitarian aid on Friday.
Earlier, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, accused Israel of a massacre and said his movement would never back down from Israeli threats.
"By God, even if we were to hang or be killed you will never get from us a position that will satisfy you," he said.
"You will never extract a stance that would hurt our people, our resistance, our steadfastness, our past or our future. We will not concede or back down."
Israeli warplanes continued attacks in the Gaza Strip overnight, with witnesses reporting a strike on a fuel truck travelling outside Rafah near the Egyptian border.
A Hamas radio station said several people had been killed and wounded, but local medics could not immediately confirm the information.
An Israeli military spokesman in Tel-Aviv told AFP: "We are continuing our attacks against Hamas-related installations in the Gaza Strip."
He said Israeli aircraft had staged several air strikes throughout the night, including against a mosque in the Rimal neighbourhood of Gaza City "where terrorists were being sheltered."
Israeli public radio said some 20 air strikes had been staged overnight.
Israel has told Gaza to expect more strikes today.
It also says it is anxious to avoid a humanitarian crisis, and plans to allow limited aid into Gaza.
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