Israel okays draft of 18,000 more reservists

An Israeli soldier sits on a Merkava tank on July 17, 2014 at an army deployment area near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip (AFP Photo/Jack Guez) (AFP)

Jerusalem (AFP) - Israel approved early Friday the draft of 18,000 new reserve soldiers, the army said, as it launched a ground operation in the Gaza Strip.

"Following the approval of the government, the IDF increased the draft of reserve forces to 18,000 troops," the army said in a statement.

A spokeswoman told AFP the decision raised the overall number of soldiers called in since the start of Operation Protective Edge to 65,000, without saying how many of them had actually been mobilised.