Israel's security cabinet on Wednesday unanimously voted to declare the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip a hostile enemy territory. The ministers also approved a series of economic sanctions against Gaza in retaliation for incessant rocket attacks emanating from the volatile coastal strip.
The proposed sanctions include reducing the supply of electricity and fuel Gaza's infrastructure depends on, while doing everything possible to avoid adversely affecting the civilian population.
Hamas officials said Israel had effectively declared war on Gaza.
The decision comes just days after a Palestinian rocket fired from Gaza wounded 69 young Israeli soldiers at a basic training camp in southern Israel. Palestinian forces operating out of Gaza have launched rocket attacks on southern Israel on an almost daily basis for years.
The cabinet unanimously rejected the recommendations of a growing number of security and defense experts that Israel launch a large-scale ground invasion of Gaza in order to crush the rocket threat.