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Photo: Gil Yohanan
Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eliyahu Yishai
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Growing calls for large-scale operation in Gaza
Lieberman, Yishai express concern over shaky ceasefire with gunmen in Gaza, say armed groups using lull to arm while continuing to fire rockets at Israel

Ministers: End restraint. Qassam fire at Israel from the Gaza Strip and arms smuggling from Egypt into the tiny costal territory necessitate a large-scale Israeli operation, cabinet ministers said Sunday.

 

Minister for Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman, Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eliyahu Yishai, and Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Yaakov Edri voiced their objection to Israel's continuing restraint in the face of Palestinian violations of ceasefire declared between the two sides a month ago.

 

"Since the ceasefire over 100 Qassams were fired at Israel," said Lieberman, demanding the government approve a large-scale ground operation against terror organizations in the Gaza Strip.

 

During talks with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Jerusalem on Saturday, Lieberman suggested that NATO send a 30,000-strong
force to the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of an Israeli operation there to ensure that terror groups don't rearm.

 

"We will hear the security review of the head of the Shin Bet and the IDF Chief of Staff. I believe we won't be able to restrain on the long term. We shouldn't continue with the situation where they fire rockets at Israel without us responding," Edri said.

 

Palestinians rearming 

Deputy Prime Minister Eliyahu Yishai said: "They ask us to wait and wait and wait and in the end we will pray a price for that. The implications are a return to what was in Lebanon, where we waited for years and gave Hizbullah time. The same will happen here too, they will continue to dig tunnels, to smuggle weapons and organize. There is no ceasefire and we are turning a blind eye."

 

"We chose imaginary calm when we claimed that a response is likely to escalate the situation. This is not right. I believe that in the end we will act and a decision will be taken soon. We need shouldn't act hastily but in an organized and planned manner that will reduce their options considerably," he said.

 

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert welcomed Rice's visit to the Middle East on Sunday.

 

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni will update ministers on her talks with Rice on Saturday.

 

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