Matan Vilnai
Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai touring the Eshkol Regional Council, December 27, 2010. Photo by Linoi Elihai
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Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai lashed out at Hamas on Monday, accusing the Islamist group turning the Gaza Strip into a "problematic abscess."

"Gaza is like an abscess, a problematic boil. For as long as they [Hamas] don't understand how to act, nothing will move forward here," said Vilnai, while touring the rocket-battered Eshkol region, close to the Gaza border. "Instead of taking care of its people, Hamas is trying to conquer Jerusalem."

Vilnai said that the Defense Ministry is working strenuously to combat security threats from Israel's border with Gaza.

"The IDF is working hard to deal with this issue. I'm not waiting for a disaster to happen," said Vilnai, who went on to express support for the regional councils' push for better defenses in all towns along the border with Gaza.

Despite declarations by both Israel and Hamas that they do not want another escalation, tensions along the Israel-Gaza border have escalated over the past month, marked by a surge in violence and exchanges of fire between IDF troops and Gaza militants.