Jerusalem, Jan.12 (ANI): Israel has claimed that the military wing of Hamas is close to being destroyed.
The country's Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, and intelligence chiefs gave a series of positive briefings to a cabinet meeting that agreed to give the military more scope to confront Hamas in the urban battlegrounds of the Gaza Strip, reports The Telegraph.
"Israel is nearing the goals that it set for itself. However, further patience, determination and effort are necessary in order to achieve those goals in a way that will change the security reality in the south," the paper quoted Olmert, as saying.
A military intelligence summary reported frustration that Hamas fighters had retreated into the centre of the strip's cities to avoid confrontation with Israeli forces.
Israel's military intelligence chief, Major General Amos Yadlin, said the Hamas has suffered serious losses in 16 days of hostilities but is not yet ready to agree to a truce.
Heavy fighting continues across Gaza with the Israeli air force bombing dozens of suspected cross-border tunnels in the south after flying through Egyptian airspace.
Heavy machine gunfire has been reported on the eastern outskirts of Gaza City and intense shelling was seen on its north edge.
Injured Gazans are not receiving timely medical assistance, though Israel has offered it.
Israel accused Hamas of using the population of Gaza as human shields in the battle. Cabinet Secretary Oved Yehezkel claimed the group was also using diplomatic property as shelter from attack.
Meanwhile, Hamas leaders are due to meet Egyptian officials in Cairo today for parallel truce talks.
Gazan medical officials claim that 878 Palestinians have been killed and at least 3,500 wounded since Operation Cast Lead was launched.
A total of 13 Israelis have died, nine in the fighting in Gaza and four in rocket attacks. (ANI)