"The current Israeli government is the weakest in the country's history," Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri said Wednesday ahead of the national security cabinet's crucial meeting regarding possible Israeli responses to the situation in Gaza.
"The Israelis are unable to deal with the Palestinian organizations and the rockets," he said, "they know they cannot launch a wide-scale operation in Gaza because (if they do) the Strip will become a graveyard for Israeli soldiers."
Despite the threats, al-Masri stressed that Hamas was willing to reach a ceasefire agreement with Israel "that would include the lifting of the blockade on Gaza".
Israel's national security cabinet, consisting of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni met Tuesday with senior security establishment officials to discuss the possibility of an IDF operation in the Strip.
Egypt increasing pressure on Hamas
The cabinet members estimate that a military confrontation with Palestinian terror groups in the coastal enclave is inevitable. Barak claims the timing of such an operation must be determined with caution so as not to impede the efforts to release kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.
Senior Palestinian sources in Gaza claimed on Tuesday that Egypt has increased its pressure on Hamas to submit a new list of prisoners it wants released as part of a comprehensive ceasefire agreement with Israel that would include Shalit's release.
Hamas' original list of 300 prisoners was, for the most part, rejected by Israel. According to Palestinian sources, Israel has agreed to release 71 prisoners "with blood on their hands".
"Now Egypt expects Hamas to become more flexible, agree to Israel's request and transfer another list of prisoners," one of the sources said. Some 11,000 Palestinian prisoners are currently being held by Israel. Hamas demands the release of 450 of them in the framework of any exchange deal.