KIRYAT SHMONA, Israel (AFP) – Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak on Tuesday warned of an impending military operation in the Gaza Strip against Palestinian militants and rocket infrastructure.
“Every day that passes brings us closer to a broad operation in Gaza,” Barak told reporters in northern Israel while visiting the army’s biggest exercise since last year’s war in Lebanon.
“We are not happy about it and we would be happy if circumstances would prevent it, but the day is definitely nearing,” the former army chief of staff said, a day after an Israeli soldier was killed in an incursion in southern Gaza.
The army carries out regular air strikes and ground operations in Gaza, which the Islamist Hamas movement has ruled since June, in an effort to curb daily rocket fire against southern Israel.
Despite the Israeli military pressure, defiant militants have continued to fire rockets, with two projectiles landing in Israeli communities on Tuesday, causing damage to one building but no injuries.
On Tuesday evening, Palestinians fired a barrage of some 10 mortars that landed south of the coastal town of Ashkelon, causing no casualties or damage.
Israel’s attorney general on Monday suspended a government decision to reduce badly-needed electricity supplies to the densely-populated Palestinian territory in a bid to put pressure on militants.
The Israeli army carried out a massive five-month ground operation in Gaza after militants abducted a soldier in a cross-border raid on an army outpost in June 2006, but were unable to recover him.