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Israel will soon have to launch a major sweep of the Gaza Strip to stop cross-border rocket fire, Ehud Barak said.

“We are getting closer to carrying out a broad operation in Gaza which, for many reasons, has not taken place in the past weeks,” the Israeli defense minister said Wednesday.

“It must be clear that an operation of this kind is not simple, neither in terms of the forces or duration required in the field nor in terms of the operational challenges which the troops will have to meet,” he told Israel’s Army Radio.

Barak’s comments came amid intensified rocket salvoes from Gaza, which caused no damage but prompted a limited Israeli incursion.

Israel last week declared Gaza a “hostile territory” and put economic sanctions into motion against its 1.5 million Palestinians.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been under domestic pressure to step up military action as well, but is believed to be reluctant to incur that kind of casualties that could overshadow his upcoming U.S.-sponsored peace conference with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

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