The Israeli security cabinet held a session on Wednesday morning and
decided to continue the military offensive in the Gaza Strip without
any changes to the current operations, but by concentrating the
shelling to areas used as launching pads for homemade shells.

The decision means the continuation of assassinations, invasions and shelling houses of fighters or people suspected on involvement with resistance groups.

Israeli sources reported that Israel's Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, is waiting for his military commanders to prepare new plans for operations in the Gaza Strip.

Olmert met with the Israeli Defense Minister, Amir Peretz, before the cabinet session. This is the first meeting between the two Israeli leaders  since Monday after their dispute over a phone call between Peretz and the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas. 

Military commanders presented their proposals and tactics of operations in the Gaza Strip, including tactics against arms smuggling tunnels and homemade shells.

The Israeli Security Cabinet approved a decision to increase the attacks against the resistance factions, especially against Hamas, by carrying further military and intelligence activities.

Also, Peretz suggested fortifying the Israeli Negev town of Sderot and Israeli cities in the Western Negev against the homemade shells.

A senior military official told the Israeli Maariv newspaper that he suggested “strangling Rafah”, by disconnecting it from the rest of the Gaza Strip in order to minimize the amounts of arms and ammunition smuggled into the souther Gaza Strip city which is located on the borders with Egypt.

Several Israeli military commanders said that Peretz “foiled” concentrated long-term operations in the Gaza Strip and thus he “limited the pressure against the Palestinian factions and the Palestinian Authority”.

On Tuesday, Peretz met with several military commanders in order to weigh plans for controlling Palestinian areas used as launching pads for homemade shells.

A senior security source in Israel stated that Israel should weigh the possibility of deploying international forces in the Gaza Strip, similar to the force that was deployed after the recent war in southern Lebanon.

“The war stopped after a political solution was enforced”, the source stated, “It wasn't the military operations that stopped it”.

Two weeks ago, Olmert met with the Italian counterpart, Romano Prodi, and rejected the idea of implementing a deal similar to the one that brought about a cease fire between Israel and Lebanon.

“It is still early to judge whether this solution is successful”,  Olmert stated, “International forces cannot stop the shells, they also bar Israel from retaliation”.