Israel refuses to rule out ground war in Gaza

Top Israeli officials said they're leaving open the possibility of a ground war in the newly inflamed tensions over the Gaza Strip.

Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the U.S., said Friday on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight" that Israel does not want the conflict to intensify, but acknowledged a buildup of ground troops.

"We are certainly keeping that option open," Oren said when asked about a ground invasion. "Yes, there is a call up of reserves. We do not want to escalate. We do not want to have ground action, but we'll take whatever measures are necessary to defend our citizens."

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Danny Damon, deputy speaker for the Israeli Knesset's Likud party, sounded a similar note on Fox New Channel Friday night.

"The government decided that we will do whatever is necessary," he told host Sean Hannity. "We attack only from the earth, only military targets. But if we have to, we will go into Gaza and clean up the mess, though."

Damon also said the U.S. should pressure Egypt to reject Hamas.

"I think it's about time to tell the Egyptians to make a stand. You want to get money from the U.S., you have to stop with the violence, have to stop indulging Hamas," he said.

Earlier this week, President Obama offered support for Israeli strikes against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip in a phone call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Obama urged Netanyahu to avoid civilian casualties with the strikes, but emphasized U.S. support for Israel's right to defend itself, according to a White House readout of the call.

Israel launched the attacks following a recent uptick in rockets fired into Israeli territory.

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