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Israel's offensive nearing its end, says deputy defence minister

Video by Marian HENBEST , Hélène DROUET

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-01-12

Cabinet members expressed different views on the Gaza offensive Sunday. Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilani said Israel was "close to ending the operation" while Housing Minister Zeev Boim told FRANCE 24 it should be "enlarged".

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Israel appears to be nearing the end of its offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai told public radio on Sunday.

"The decision of the [United Nations] Security Council doesn't give us much leeway," he said. "Thus it would seem that we are close to ending the ground operation and ending the operation altogether."

The 16-day-old offensive has "allowed us to reach objectives that no one could have dreamed about two weeks ago. Regarding the blow to Hamas: they still don't understand what has hit them: they will understand better when they come out of their hiding places," said Vilnai.

Earlier Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that the Jewish state was nearing the goals it had set for Operation Cast Lead, but said fighting would continue for the time being.

On the contrary, Housing Minister Zeev Boim told FRANCE 24: "We have to enlarge the military operation in Gaza against Hamas and the terrorist infrastructure. And we have to consider control of the Philadelphi route, otherwise we will see in the next round more missiles and long-range missiles."


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Date created : 2009-01-12

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