Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the defense establishment should be given full backing to carry on with military activities in the Gaza Strip, a majority of ministers said before entering Sunday's cabinet meeting.
"It is not a question of succeeding or not succeeding in the operation that is unfolding," Minister Eitan Cabel said just prior to the meeting.
"I know of no country that wouldn't have continued to defend itself in the circumstances that has been created. It is forbidden to forget the thousands of mortar shells that were fired before the disengagement at Gush Katif and communities near Gaza. If Ismail Haniyeh really wants a ceasefire, he would order the release of kidnapped corporal Gilad Shalit and the halt of Qassam fire at Ashkelon, Sderot and the western Negev. As the Palestinian prime minister he is responsible and he should act."
Immigrant Absorption Minister Zeev Boim stressed that "the operation has not ended. It is an ongoing operation, and it will continue so long Gilad Shalit is not freed. We know there is no permanent solution to Qassam fire but we have to continue and act against terror emanating from the Gaza Strip. Ismail Haniyeh offered nothing when he called for a ceasefire."
Tamir: Information on soldier condition for truce
Education Minister Yuli Tamir said: "We will continue the IDF operation until the threat on southern residents is eliminated. Calls for calm and talks are related to the inevitable information on the kidnapped soldier. With no information of the kind there is no point in a ceasefire."
Cabinet meeting Sunday. Army wins backing (Photo: Reuters)
Tourism Minister Yitzhak Herzog backed the security establishment: "It is not possible to manage an operation when every two hours people ask what the achievements are. There is ingenious solution that will lead to 100 percent success in the targets set for the operation. We need to allow the government and the army to act."
Health Minister Yacov Ben Yizri added: "We need to trust decisions taken by the government and the security establishment. We are required to be patient. Ismail Haniyeh's offer to ceasefire is meaningless."
Minister Jacob Edery said Israel has to step up pressure on gunmen and the Palestinian Authority: "The targets of the operation are the return of Corporal Gilad Shalit and halting Qassam fire. So long these targets are not achieved we have to continue to act."
Arab League calls to condemn Israel
During the meeting, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is expected to brief the ministers on the wide support Israel was receiving from the international community for its operations in Gaza, considered as Israel's right to defend itself.
Most western countries, headed by the United States, Britain and Germany, back Israel and will not call on it to cease its military activities at this point.
Livni will also update the ministers on the Arab League's call for a condemnation of Israel over the Gaza operation.
The cabinet will also hear initial reports of the IDF's intelligence unit and deputy head of the Shin Bet regarding the occurrences inside the Strip, and assessments pertaining to the possible release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.
No attempt to create security zone
Defense Minister Amir Peretz will present before the cabinet the progress gained on goals set for the "Summer Rains" operation. Peretz is set to reports that the pressure exerted on the Palestinian government is yielding results, expressed through Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh's proposal for a ceasefire on Saturday.
Peretz will also note that the operation cannot be completed instantly, and that this is a long-term process which requires time. In any event, officials in both the PM's Office and the Defense Minister's Office oppose to the claim that the IDF is trying to form a security zone in Gaza.
"In the coming weeks we'll be seeing ongoing operation by the army, which will go in and out of Gaza in a bid to target the Palestinian terror," a senior security official said prior to the meeting.
Roee Nahmias contributed to the report