Israeli Defense Minister, Amir Peretz, said on Monday during a session
for the Knesset Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee that he gave
orders to expand the military operations in the Gaza Strip, under the
pretext preventing the arming resistance factions.

Peretz added that the army is operating “on the ground, in the air and underground”, in order to locate the tunnels used by resistance faction in smuggling arms and ammunition into the Gaza Strip.

During a security briefing, Peretz stated that the army intends to prevent the situation from deteriorating in Gaza in order to avoid a massive ground offensive there. 

“We will not allow Gaza to become another southern Lebanon, we will target every group and member who attacks us”, Peretz said.
Regarding the ground offensive, Peretz stated that “the military operations are underway in accordance to the army and intelligence recommendations.  He added that he prefers that the political process will prevent any further escalation.

Yet, the Israeli position remains that Israel refuses to negotiate any prisoner swap deal with Palestinian resistance factions holding an Israeli soldier captive since June 25.

Israeli Ynetnews reported that a senior intelligence officer said during the meeting that armed factions in Gaza are smuggling armed and increased this activity following the end of the war with Lebanon.

Israeli army sources claim that Palestinian armed factions would try to arm themselves with anti-tank missiles, aided by Iran and Syria, the Ynetnews added.

Meanwhile, Yuval Diskin,  Chief of the Shin Bet security services, claimed earlier that resistance factions in Gaza continued to arm themselves and became a strategic threat that must be addressed.

Diskin added that the armed factions learned lessons from the recent Israeli war with the Lebanon-based Hezbollah party and “understood the might of anti-tank shells, gorilla warfare and underground bunkers”.

At least eleven Palestinians were killed over this past weekend during Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip. 

Referring to illegal settlement outpost in the occupied West Bank, Peretz said that the army will start removing the illegal settlement outposts in the West Bank in two weeks.

He added that he will give the head of the Settlements movement a period of two weeks to achieve a “negotiated solution” on the illegal outposts, “If we fail to reach a solution, we will evacuate the outposts by force”.

Israeli extreme right wing member of the “Ehud Leuimi” party, Uri Ariel, said that he advices Peretz “not to threaten the settlers” adding that “if the Israeli government wants a civil war, it should start the evacuation now”.

All settlements and settlement outposts in the Palestinian occupied territories are constructed on Palestinian annexed lands and constitute a direct violation of the international law.