(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

The Ministerial Committee on National Security Affairs (the Security Cabinet) met yesterday (Friday), 2 January 2009, in order to discuss the continuation of IDF operations in the Gaza Strip.

In continuation of the Ministerial Committee’s 24 December 2008 decision, in the framework of which approval was given to the operational methods that were recommended by the IDF and security establishment vis-a-vis action against Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in the Gaza, the Committee decided to instruct the IDF to continue operations and proceed to the stage that includes a ground entry into the Gaza Strip.

The goal of the operation is to continue advancing the goals that the Government has set for the operation as a whole, including striking hard at Hamas’s terrorism infrastructure and changing the security reality for residents of the south.  IDF forces plan – inter alia – to take control of the launch areas from which most of the missiles that have hit Sderot, Ashkelon and Ashdod in recent weeks and months have been fired from.

The Committee decided that the timing of the plan’s implementation would be determined by the security establishment in accordance with its operational judgment; this was determined for Saturday evening, 3 January 2009.

The Ministerial Committee further instructed the IDF to prepare for additional stages of the operation and to maintain alert in other areas, and, to these ends, to mobilize the necessary reserve forces – tens of thousands of soldiers.

Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Tzahi Hanegbi and Opposition Chairman MK Benjamin Netanyahu have been informed of the foregoing.