Pressure is growing on Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to call for a military operation to retake the southern border between Gaza and Egypt. At their weekly meeting on Sunday, cabinet members voiced concerns that smuggling across the Egyptian border was enabling Hamas to acquire an unprecedented arsenal. Some intelligence reports suggest tonnes of weapons have been brought in via a network of secret tunnels.
Deputy prime minister Shimon Peres said the security of Israeli citizens was paramount.
“Hamas is pushing to the end of its government. They cannot behave like this, to be wild, to fire, to shoot, to say ‘We shall not make agreements, shall not respect them’. Who is going to support them, who is going to pay for them?,” he said.
The Israeli military is still bruising from its conflict with heavily armed Hezbollah militia in southern Lebanon and has voiced fears that Hamas could soon present a similar threat to its authority.
Israel withdrew from the 12-kilometre long border zone with Egypt more than a year ago.