The IDF is continuing preparations for a possible extensive operation in Gaza, Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz stated Friday - remarking that such an operation is inevitable.
"Gaza is, indeed, growing an army with artillery," Steinitz stated on IDF Radio's "Good Morning Israel" show.
"We should try to choose the timing [of an operation] and not have our enemies choose the timing," added Steinitz.
Roughly 40 rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel over the past few days, pummeling Israelis in the Eshkol and Sha'ar HaNegev Regional Council areas.
Israel delivered an ultimatum to Hamas on Thursday to stop the rocket fire from Gaza within 48 hours, or deal with an Israeli attack on Gaza.
However, Hamas declared late Thursday that they are "not afraid" of retaliation, even as a Hamas source reportedly told the BBC on Friday that a cease-fire would be declared "within hours" following negotiations with Egyptian mediators.
That report aired roughly the same time that another five rockets peppered southern Israel, despite the IDF ultimatum.
Over 15 rockets and roughly as many mortar shells rained in on Israel Thursday afternoon, causing two fires - one in the Sderot industrial area - and damaging several homes. The mortars inflicted mild wounds on an IDF soldier, who took shrapnel to the leg.
Earlier on Thursday, Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon and Finance Minister Yair Lapid visited the rocket-battered city of Sderot, where Lapid said "no sane country" would accept such a situation, and Danon called on the government to "do whatever it takes to destroy the Hamas organization."