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Israel's Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff
Israel's Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff has said that a major military offensive against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip is becoming more likely, the daily Haaretz reported on Wednesday.

Speaking at a security conference in Tel Aviv, Lt.Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi said that daily IDF incursions into the coastal territory were hurting militants, but could not be decisive in curbing attacks against Israel.

"We are operating in Gaza on a daily basis. [On Tuesday] we returned from a broad operation - this brings a reduction in the ground threat and the firing of rockets, but does not stop it," Ashkenazi said. "We will come to the point where we will have to carry out a large operation."

The paper also said the Israeli security cabinet had met on Wednesday to discuss IDF actions in the Gaza Strip.

It quoted a cabinet source as saying that current sanctions, which include a reduction in fuel shipments, would be tightened in the near future.

It also said that ministers at the cabinet meeting had been unable to reach a decision on whether or not to embark on a large-scale invasion of the Gaza Strip in response to rocket attacks on Israeli territory, although a senior official said that "Israel is getting closer to an operation every day."

A total of 970 rockets and 1,200 mortar shells have been fired at Israel from Gaza since the start of 2007.

Since May 2007, according to the paper, 158 militants have been killed and 173 injured in IDF operations.

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