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Israel sees Hamas gone from Gaza "in months"

Palestinian Hamas supporters shout slogans during a rally organised by the Hamas movement to celebrate the 20 anniversary of its foundation, in Gaza December 15, 2007. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel’s Vice Premier Haim Ramon said on Monday a “combination of steps” could topple the Gaza Strip’s Hamas leaders within months.

“I believe a combination of steps against Hamas in Gaza will bring an end to the Hamas regime in Gaza,” Ramon told reporters. “They will not last. It will take a few months, maybe it will take a year.”

Ramon said he was recommending to the cabinet that it step up its campaign against Hamas Islamists, who seized control of the Gaza Strip in June, by targeting all Hamas leaders who are “directly or indirectly” involved in attacks against Israelis.

He also said Israel should respond to cross-border attacks by immediately attacking areas in the coastal territory from where rockets are launched and by tightening restrictions on supplies of electricity and fuel to Gaza.

Ramon’s comments came after Defence Minister Ehud Barak said earlier Israel would intensify a military campaign to curb Palestinian rocket fire from the Gaza Strip and was preparing for a possible broader offensive in the territory.

Reporting by Adam Entous; Editing by Samia Nakhoul