Israel does not intend to reoccupy the Gaza Strip with its current ground offensive against the enclave's Hamas rulers, a senior government official said on Sunday.
"Israel has no intention to return to occupy the Gaza Strip," government secretary Ovid Yehezkel said as he briefed reporters after a cabinet meeting.
"The operation is aimed solely to achieve the goals set forth by the cabinet.
"The operation might last a long time. We may still be facing hard days."
"We will reach a calm only if all of Israel's demands are fulfilled," he said.
He said the Jewish state was holding talks on striking a ceasefire via different channels with "leaders from the US, the EU, and moderate Arab states including the PA (Palestinian Authority) under (Palestinian president Mahmud) Abbas," he said.
"It is clear that any arrangement Israel will accept will have to include a complete halt to rocket fire, an end to Hamas's rearmament and a normal life for the citizens of the south."
Israel ended its occupation of the Gaza Strip in 2005.