By Jean Shaoul
15 February 2008
Israeli armed forces are engaged in a sustained offensive against the Gaza Strip with the aim of eliminating Hamas’s military and political leadership. Tzahi Hanegbi, chairman of the Israeli parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, said Israel should go after Hamas’s political leaders, and not just its gunmen. Israeli defence officials said they were considering stepping up their air strikes to target Hamas political leaders in Gaza.
In another announcement, Defence Minister Ehud Barak ordered the army to prepare for a major operation to end rocket fire from Gaza. Vice premier Haim Ramon said Israel would maintain its blockade on Gaza and reduce supplies of electricity and fuel, tightening once again its grip on Gaza.