Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Sunday accused the Islamist Hamas movement of "shattering" the truce in Gaza and said he had ordered security chiefs to draw up plans to end its rule, AFP reported.
"The responsibility for the shattering of the calm and the creation of a situation of prolonged and repeated violence in the south of the country is entirely on Hamas and the other terror groups in Gaza," Olmert told ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting.
"There is no one who can criticise the Israeli government... We cannot tolerate this price tag that the terror organisations are trying to set against our right to prevent the continuing terror attacks and threats," he said.
"We have taken action and will continue to take action in order to make sure that this 'calm' does not turn against the citizens of Israel."
Olmert said that he had asked the heads of Israeli security bodies to immediately draw up plans and present the government with options for ending the Islamists' 17-month-old rule in the Gaza Strip.
After consultations with senior ministers last week, "I instructed the heads of the security establishment to present me in the nearest possible time with an orderly plan to put before the government in order to restore full calm in the south," he said.
"I instructed them to immediately bring to an end discussions that have gone on for too long between the justice system and the defence system and to present different action plans against the Hamas terror rule without its hampering our ability to use all necessary force in our response to violations of the calm."
An Egyptian-brokered truce between Israel and Hamas came into force on June 19 and despite sporadic violations by both sides had led to a prolonged calm on the border until a fresh flare-up on November 5.
Since then the two sides have engaged in almost daily tit-for-tat exchanges that have left numbers of casualties.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who is one of the two frontrunners to replace Olmert after snap elections to be held in February, echoed the prime minister's remarks, a senior official said.
"The calm is being violated, that's a fact. Israel can't accept violations without taking the action it determined ahead of time," she was quoted as saying. "The army must present the options."
Defence Minister Ehud Barak, leader of the centre-left Labour party, took a slightly more conciliatory line, saying Israel might be prepared to consider a return to the truce.
"When the time comes for action, we will take it and we will succeed," Barak said. "But I don't have any regret about any moment of calm.
"If the other side wants the calm, we will consider it seriously."