The government, faced with a continued escalation of Kassam rocket fire on Sderot and the western Negev, decided Sunday to concentrate on a public relations campaign to explain the problem of arms smuggling to the international community.



Although intelligence officials have stated over the past year that Gaza terrorists already have a huge stockpile of advanced weapons, including anti-aircraft missiles, the Cabinet deferred taking direct military action except for its approval of pinpoint targeting of terrorist cells.



Ministers said the government wants to explain to the world how the unchecked smuggling has turned Gaza into a budding Lebanon.



The Cabinet decided not to take a stand on whether to okay or nix a ground offensive against counter-terrorists.

"Iran is building a ‘Hamastan’ in Gaza. . . . Iran is involved in supporting both the Islamic factions and Fatah. . . . Today, at least 40 percent of Fatah’s different fighting groups are also paid by Hizbullah and Iran,” Shalom Harari, of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, recently noted.

At least 40 percent of Fatah’s different fighting groups are also paid by Hizbullah and Iran.





"If Israel again attacks deep into Gaza, Hamas hopes to confront it with something like what was seen in southern Lebanon--reserves of Hizbullah dug in deep under the earth. They have air conditioning experts for the underground tunnels they are constructing.... They have experts for every field connected to the development of weapons and rockets," added Brig.-Gen. Harari.



"In Gaza there are between 80,000 and 100,000 automatic rifles and machine guns. This is the most [heavily] armed people in the Middle East except for Somalia. In 2006, thirty tons of TNT were brought into Gaza," Harari said.



"The IDF will have to enter Gaza in a very wide-scale operation in the next year, if not in the next six months. . . . The big question is whether to do it now or wait, like Israel did in Lebanon--and look at the results."



Arab terrorists fired three more Kassam rockets on the western Negev Sunday, one of them causing a brush fire but no injuries. More than 250 rockets have been fired on Israel since the so-called Gaza truce announced in late November by Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.



As the attacks continued, the Cabinet discussed the problem for four hours. Former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said he opposes a ground action, reasoning that "at this moment a large-scale operation in the Gaza Strip won't bring solutions."



The only major change the Cabinet approved, except for the public relations campaign, is to allow the military to hit known terrorists, rather than restrict its targets to rocket-firing cells "caught in the act."



Notable exceptions to opposing a ground action were Public Security Minister Avi Dichter (Kadima) and Strategic Threats Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Israel Our Home--Yisrael Beiteinu).