Offensive in the offing?
Offensive in the offing?IDF Spokesman

Returning from his 3-day trip to Washington after a Kassam rocket killed a kibbutz member in the Negev, Olmert warns Hamas - once again - that reprisal is near.

Olmert said that he and his Defense Minister, Ehud Barak - who are currently in the midst of a political arm-wrestle over the scheduling of new elections - are in agreement regarding the timetable of a military operation against Hamas in Gaza.

Amnon Rosenberg, 51, a member of Kibbutz Nirim in the Negev and father of 3, was killed by a Kassam rocket that slammed into the factory in which he was working in nearby Kibbut Nir-Oz. Five other workers were wounded.  Rosenberg was the 4th Hamas rocket casualty in the past 100 days. The others were Roni Yihye, killed in Sderot; Jimmy Kedoshim, killed when a mortar shell slammed into his house in Kibbutz Kfar Aza; and pediatrician Dr. Shuli Katz, 70, killed by a Grad-type Katyusha missile at Kibbutz Yesha. 

Friday morning, several more rockets were fired from northern Gaza to Sderot and the Ashkelon region.  Students in the Sapir College were treated for shock when one rocket slammed down nearby.

"As it appears now," Olmert told reporters just before his departure from the U.S. capital Thursday evening, "we are close to a ground operation in Gaza." 

Minister Barak visited Nir-Oz on Thursday evening, and said afterwards, "The military operation in Gaza is closer than ever."  Barak has made similar statements many times since becoming Defense Minister a year ago.  The IDF did enter Gaza for several days of intense anti-terror warfare in early March, though the offensive was not on the major scale that many have called for.

Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit, for instance - a former Likud MK who generally found himself on the left end of the party's spectrum - says that entire neighborhoods in Gaza must be wiped out in response to the ongoing rocket attacks on Israel. Sheetrit repeated this week his position that a warning must first be given, allowing Gaza residents time to leave their houses, and then entire neighborhoods from where rockets are fired should be destroyed. 

Needless to say, Sheetrit is against a ceasefire with Hamas, which he says will only give the terrorists more time to arm themselves and prepare for another round of warfare with Israel.

Former Public Security Minister Uzi Landau also says the time for military action against Gaza is long overdue.  Speaking with Arutz-7's Hebrew newsmagazine on Thursday, Landau said, "Every time there is a terror attack, we react to the attack itself... We have to change our way of thinking. The solution must be based on ensuring that the terrorists realize that they will gain nothing diplomatically by their terrorism... Our military action against them must concentrate on their leaders, from Ismail Haniye and down to the terrorists in the field. We must also act in the areas in which they smuggle weapons."