As Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert disagrees with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak regarding the need to continue the military operation against Hamas, analysts believe it is likely that Israel will intensify its activity in Gaza in an attempt to destroy Hamas' infrastructure as much as possible.
In a meeting on Sunday, Barak and Livni argued for ending Operation Cast Lead as soon as possible. Livni held that continuing the operation would spoil the deterrence it has gained and hurt Israel diplomatically, while Barak objected to sending ground troops deep into densely populated areas.
Smoke rises after an explosion in northern Gaza Strip Jan. 12, 2009. Israeli ground troops tried to enter Gaza City on Monday, the 17th day of the offensive, bringing the total Palestinian death toll over 900. [Yin Bogu/Xinhua]
Olmert said on Monday he hoped for a quick end to the military operation in Gaza but stressed that the war would continue as long as Hamas carried on its rocket assault on southern Israel and its smuggling tunnels along the Egyptian border were not fully destroyed.
"Livni and Barak believe that if they were to continue the operation, the possibility of civilian deaths... could grow and international criticism of Israel would increase," Dan Diker, senior foreign policy analyst at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs told Xinhua. "Israel would not stand to gain as much on the reward as it stands to loose on the price of such an operation," he added.
He noted that Livni and Barak were also in favor of ending the military operation as the Israeli Defense Forces(IDF) had already succeeded in striking a blow to Hamas by demolishing much of the infrastructure it used to attack Israel. In addition, the operation had also restored Israel's reputation and stance on terrorism, which were tarnished during the 34-day war against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon in 2006.
"Israel has done a good job in re-establishing a substantial part of its deterrence against Hamas and even on the Arab street," Diker said. "There is a strong sense on the Arab street that the Jews have gone crazy."
Some analysts said, however, that an intensified operation would come at a cost.