Israeli army officials told the Jerusalem Post news paper that the Israeli government will conduct a medium range ground offensive targeting Gaza before any truce deal with the Palestinian resistance groups in Gaza takes effect.

The officials said that it's likely the operation will be approved this coming Tuesday during the meeting between the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his defense Minister Ehud Barak.

According to army officials, Israel does not want to appear weak, by accepting the truce deal while Palestinian resistance groups are still firing home made-shells from Gaza toward nearby Israeli areas.

Last week, representatives of the ruling Hamas party in Gaza returned “empty handed” from Cairo, as Egyptian mediators had received no response from Israel to the Hamas offer of a truce.

The Egyptian-mediated ceasefire stipulates that Hamas will halt the fire of homemade shells into Israeli territory, in exchange for Israel lifting the 12 month-blockade and ceasing all military attacks against the Gaza Strip.

Israel has set a further two demands: the release of a captured Israeli soldier, and ensuring an end to alleged “arms smuggling” through underground tunnels on the Egypt-Gaza borders.