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Israel Considers Military Action in Gaza After Palestinian Infiltration

Israel is considering a military response in the Gaza Strip after an infiltration by Palestinian militants. As Robert Berger reports from VOA's Jerusalem bureau, Israel sees Gaza as a growing threat since the Islamic militant group Hamas seized control of the territory from the more moderate Fatah faction two months ago.

Israeli Cabinet ministers demanded tough military action Sunday after two Palestinian gunmen scaled the heavily fortified Gaza border wall on Saturday and infiltrated Israel. The gunmen, who were on their way to attack an Israeli community, were intercepted and killed by Israeli troops.

On Sunday, six unarmed Palestinian youths scaled the wall in the same area and were arrested by Israeli troops.

In the wake of the infiltrations, and daily Palestinian rocket attacks on border communities, Israel is running out of patience. Avi Dichter is the government's public security minister.

Dichter told Israel Radio that the country must restore deterrence in Gaza. He said there are military measures that Israel has not taken yet that could convince the Islamic militant group Hamas to halt rocket attacks and infiltrations.

Dichter said Israel should create a buffer zone or no-man's land along the Gaza border, where any Palestinian entering the area would be considered a terrorist and shot. He said some Palestinian neighborhoods in Gaza which militants use to launch rockets at Israel should be evacuated.

So far the measures have not been approved by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who fears they could torpedo peace efforts with the internationally-backed Palestinian government in the West Bank.

But many Israeli officials believe that with Hamas in power in Gaza, a major military offensive is just a matter of time.