Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz has reiterated that using military force against the occupied Gaza Strip is still an option, Israeli Public Broadcaster Kan reported today.
"I visited the Southern Command [of the Israeli army] in the Gaza periphery," Kan reported Gantz saying, "using military forces is still an option on the table."
He added: "I want to make clear to everyone in the region that using military forces is not separated from our commitment to regain our prisoners and missing persons in the hands of Hamas."
Gantz continued: "We want to continue maintaining a high level of security in the south, continue our efforts to regain the [missing] soldiers and maintain the safety of the interests of the people living in that area."
Earlier this month, Al-Quds Al-Araby reported that Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh had revealed that talks between the movement and Israel about a potential prisoner swap had started through the Egyptian mediator. He gave no more details.