Israel's Army on Tuesday refused to rule out a massive ground invasion of Lebanon as part of an offensive to force Hezbollah guerrillas to free two Israeli soldiers and stop firing rockets at the Jewish state.
"The army has many possibilities for action," Moshe Kaplinsky, Israel's deputy army chief, told Israel Radio when asked if the military would rule out a massive land incursion.
"At this stage we do not think we have to activate massive ground forces into Lebanon but if we have to do this, we will. We are not ruling it out."
Israel has been massing troops, tanks and artillery pieces near its northern border with Lebanon. It has also called up thousands of reserve soldiers.
Three Israeli tanks briefly crossed a few hundred metres into southern Lebanon on Monday afternoon, a UN source said, following a similar earlier incursion in which Israel said Hizbollah positions were destroyed.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Monday his country would pursue its offensive until the two soldiers were returned and the Lebanese army controlled all of south Lebanon.
An Israeli government source has said Israel may step up attacks in coming days, mindful that its chief ally, the United States, might not resist indefinitely international pressure for a ceasefire. Washington has backed Israel's right to self-defence.