Israel deployed extra forces to its border with Gaza yesterday after continued Palestinian rocket fire and heightened tensions following the suspected revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem.
"We are moving and we have moved forces in order to serve defence activities and forward preparation, but we have no interest in escalation," army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner told journalists.
The reinforcements were reserve officers at "headquarter level, not in the field," Lerner said, and were a purely defensive measure.
Armed forces chief Lieutenant General Benny Gantz sent a similar message in comments tweeted by the army.
"We are looking for calm, not escalation, but if Hamas chooses to act against us we shall be ready," he said.
Israeli warplanes pounded targets inside the Gaza Strip yesterday and militants hit back with 16 rockets.
In east Jerusalem's Shuafat neighbourhood, masked Palestinians hurled stones and fireworks at Israeli police and sent burning car tyres rolling along streets in a second day of protest over the kidnap and murder of local 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khder.
Many believe his was a copycat killing following the abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank last month.
But the Islamist Hamas movement, whom Israel has blamed for the kidnap and murder of the three teenagers in June, said it held Netanyahu's government directly responsible for the killing of Abu Khder.