Text size

Defense Minister Amir Peretz said Tuesday that Israel is concerned about the continued strengthening and arming of Hamas and is following developments closely.

During a visit to the Israel Defense Forces Gaza Division, Peretz said Hamas is taking advantage of the cease-fire agreement between Israel and the Palestinians to continue stockpiling arms.

"We are definitely doing everything in order to preserve the cease-fire," said Peretz, but added that Israel has "no reason to turn [Hamas']strengthening into a real threat to Israel."

Peretz refused to rule out a military operation in the Gaza Strip. "Every solution that protects the citizens of Israel is possible," he said. "We prefer a diplomatic solution, but where that doesn't work out, we will also conduct military operations."

IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, who accompanied Peretz on his visit, said one of the principle Gaza threats that concerns the IDF is the digging of booby-trapped tunnels by Palestinian organizations.

A Qassam rocket hit an open area south of Ashkelon Tuesday, causing no injuries. In Nablus, the IDF continued its large-scale operation "Hot Winter," which is focusing primarily on carrying out arrests in the casbah.

Three women's bodies found in Gaza in under 12 hoursThe bodies of three woman were discovered in the Gaza Strip over the course of 12 hours on Tuesday, in what appear to be unrelated murders.

The body of 31-year-old Gaza City resident Ibtisam Abi Gaynes was discovered on the Beit Lahia beach in northern Gaza on Monday night.

Several hours later, passersby found the body of 45-year-old Samira A-Dabeiki. According to her husband, he last saw her on Monday afternoon when she went out to do some shopping.

Tuesday morning, the body of 40-year-old Amani al-Husari was found in the Sheikh Redwan neighborhood. According to her son, armed gunmen who identified themselves as police burst into their home on Monday night and abducted his mother.

Meanwhile, Palestinian security forces discovered the body of Abdul Majid Abu Suheiben, who apparently was a smuggler, in a collapsed Rafah tunnel. The tunnel collapsed Monday, and two of those inside managed to survive.