Hamas Dares Israel to Invade Gaza

Smoke rises during an explosion from an Israeli forces strike in Gaza City, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. Israel bombarded the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip with nearly 200 airstrikes early Saturday, the military said, widening a blistering assault on Gaza rocket operations by militants to include the prime minister's headquarters, a police compound and a vast network of smuggling tunnels.ASSOCIATED PRESS

As airstrikes from Israel continued for the sixth day on Monday, a top Hamas leader dared Israel to invade Gaza with ground forces, The New York Times reports.

Khaled Meshal, speaking at a news conference in Cairo, said the mobilization of Israeli ground forces on its southern border was merely a bluff by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"The demand of the people of Gaza is meeting their legitimate demands — for Israel to be restrained from its aggression, assassinations and invasions, and for the siege over Gaza to be ended," he said on Monday, according to The Times.

But Israel warned on Monday that, while it prefers a diplomatic resolution, it would invade if necessary.

On Tuesday, President Obama sent Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the region to attempt to broker a deal between the two parties and end the conflict that has left dozens of civilians dead. The president has been clear from the start, however, that any deal must have a guarantee from Hamas that it would cease rocket fire into Israel.

Hamas militants have been shooting rockets into Israel for the last week, with targets including both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.