Israeli ‘s army deputy chief of staff, Major-General Moshe Kaplinsky, said Wednesday that Israel has not ruled out deploying "massive ground forces" in the country, Al Jazeera TV reported.
"At this stage, we do not think we have to activate massive ground forces into Lebanon, but if we have to do this, we will. We are not ruling it out," Kaplinsky said.
Israeli troops have already entered Southern Lebanon several times in the last few days for short missions to destroy Hezbollah posts.
Israel has so far kept ground invasions limited with most attacks coming from the air and sea.
With Hezbollah being far more familiar with the terrain and the memories of the ill-fated 18-year occupation of Southern Lebanon still fresh in their minds, Kaplinsky said Israel had no intention of getting bogged down in the region a second time.
"We certainly won’t reach months, and I hope it also won’t be many more weeks. But we still need time to complete the operation’s very clear objectives," he said.
White House spokesman Tony Snow declined to comment on Kaplinsky’s statements, though he said the Bush administration is not pleased with the current situation.
"A ceasefire that would leave the status quo ante intact is absolutely unacceptable. A ceasefire that would leave intact a terrorist infrastructure is unacceptable," Snow said. "So what we’re trying to do is work as best we can toward a ceasefire that is going to create not only the conditions, but the institutions for peace and democracy in the region."
UN secretary-general Kofi Annan has shown support for a proposal to expand the current 2,000-member UN force in south Lebanon, saying that a new force must be "considerably" larger and better armed than the current one.