02/29/2008, 00.00
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The signs are increasing that a land attack on Gaza is near

The invasion would be motivated by the growing number of rockets launched against Israelis by the Palestinians, in spite of the bloody raids by Israeli air forces. The press in Jerusalem sees an invasion as inevitable and close.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - Today's return of of prime minister Ehud Olmert from Japan brings palpably closer the moment of Israel's decision to launch a large-scale terrestrial military operation against the Gaza Strip.  Israeli exasperation over the regular launching of rockets by members of Hamas, which are now striking, in addition to the small town of Sderot, the city of Ashkelon as well, provides the motivation.  The Palestinians are intensifying their rocket strikes, which have killed a child and caused some injuries, in spite of the Israeli air strikes that have left 30 dead over the past 48 hours.

The Israeli press speaks constantly of a large-scale military option, and today the most widely distributed newspaper in the country, Yedioth Ahronoth, has published a list of troop movements including the placement of dozens of tanks and artillery units just to the north of Gaza, to reinforce the infantry and the engineer corps already inside the Strip.

An analysis conducted by the Haaretz also emphasises a statement by defence minister Ehud Barak, that a large-scale Israeli response is "closer than you might think".  Confirmation of this has been seen in the decision of the head of Egyptian security, Omar Suleiman, to delay his visit to Israel scheduled for next week.  Egyptian sources attribute the delay to the situation in Gaza.

Israeli defence sources cited by the Jerusalem Post maintain, finally, that the objective of the operation is not only that of reducing the threat of rocket launches and discovering where the rockets are made, but also that of paralyzing the operational capacity of the Hamas government, and making a regime change possible.

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