A senior Israeli military source, told the Sunday Times that military action, which will involve some 20,000 troops, would be in response to Hamas Qassam attacks on the western Negev, or renewed suicide attacks on Israel, and should destroy much of Hamas' military capability in a number of days.
According to the report, Barak, who is expected to take role as defense minister on Monday, has already demanded detailed plans to deploy two armored divisions and an infantry division, accompanied by assault drones and F-16 jets, against Hamas.
Saying that the attack was only a matter of time, the source told the newspaper that Israel could not tolerate an aggressive "Hamastan" on its borders.
Defense establishment sources expect the IDF to be confronted by some 12,000 Hamas gunmen, and believe their forces will face even greater resistance in Gaza than they encountered battling Hizbullah in the Second Lebanon War.
Olmert: PA gov't without Hamas 'legitimate partner'Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is scheduled to meet with US President George Bush and discuss the deteriorating situation in the Palestinian Authority and Hamas' takeover of the Gaza Strip.
In his meeting with Bush and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Olmert is expected to clarify that Israel reserves the option to respond militarily in the event that Hamas harms Israeli civilians.
Before leaving for Washington, Olmert told reporters that the new reality in the PA may present a new opportunity for political progress as Israel would consider a Palestinian government without Hamas a legitimate partner for future talks.
"A situation that hasn't existed for a long time has been created over the course of the past few days in the changing landscape of the Palestinian Authority.
"We intend to work very hard to use this opportunity. We can look at it as a setback but the possibility exists that this is a new opportunity. You need to know how to identify that opportunity," he said.