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Israel could face a situation in Gaza in two to three years similar to what it now faces in Lebanon if there is not a significant change in how Israel deals with the situation there, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head Yuval Diskin told the cabinet Sunday.
Military Intelligence Chief Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin told the cabinet the Palestinians were fervently trying to carry out suicide attacks inside Israel to open up a "third front," in addition to the two existing fronts in the North and the South.
"A very problematic reality is developing in Gaza," Diskin said. "In two to three years, if there is not a significant change, we could find ourselves in a situation similar to what we are facing against Hizbullah in Lebanon, which is to say fortified bunkers, tunnels and dangerous infrastructure and weaponry."
To keep this eventuality from materializing, Diskin said there was a need to block the smuggling routes of arms into Gaza, including under the Philadelphi Corridor that runs between Gaza and Egypt, and which Israel pulled back from last year as part of the disengagement from Gaza. He also said Israel had to keep Hamas from improving its weapon capabilities.
Diskin said that the terrorist organizations were under a great deal of pressure to carry out large-scale terrorist attacks inside Israel, as a sign of identification with Hizbullah in Lebanon.
Along with this pessimistic prognosis, Yadlin said that the way Israel was reacting to the rocket fire from Lebanon was having a deterrent impact on the Palestinian rocket fire on Israel.
Yadlin said that while some elements in Hamas may be interested in a cease-fire, the military wing of the organization and Damascus-based leader Khaled Mashaal were not. He said that Sunday morning's Kassam attacks in the South, for which Hamas took responsibility, was that organization's reply to the cease-fire initiative.
Diskin said that Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas came up with the initiative, and the Egyptians backed it. The Shin Bet chief said that Israel's assessment was that Cpl. Gilad Shalit was still alive and being held somewhere in Gaza.
Deputy Chief of the General Staff Maj.-Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky told the cabinet that since the IDF began operating intensively in Gaza following the attack at Kerem Shalom that led to the killing of two soldiers and the capture of Gilad Shalit, some 150 terrorists had been killed. During the same period, he said, one IDF soldier was killed and 193 Kassam rockets fell on Israel.