Israel: No Intention To Occupy Gaza

Israeli Foreign Minister and newly elected Kadima party chair Tzipi Livni gives a statement to the press outside her house in Tel Aviv, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2008. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni declared victory Thursday in a surprisingly tight race to replace Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as head of Israel's governing party, and said she would immediately turn to the task of trying to cobble together a new government. (AP Photo/Alon Ron) ** ISRAEL OUT **[Click image for
AP Photo/Alon Ron
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni says there are no plans to occupy Gaza, after two days of airstrikes in the Palestinian territory and the callup of 6,500 Israeli reserve soldiers.

Speaking Sunday on "Meet the Press," Livni says the Israeli assault came because Gaza's Hamas rulers were smuggling weapons and building up "a small army."

But, she said, "Our goal is not to reoccupy" the Gaza Strip.

Some 280 Palestinians have died in the first 24 hours of the campaign against Gaza rocket squads - most of them Hamas police.

In response, thousands across the Middle East are protesting the air assault.

Livni's comments come as Israel's Cabinet authorized a callup of at least 6,500 reserve soldiers, suggesting plans to expand the offensive with ground forces against Gaza rocket squads.

Israel launched some 250 airstrikes over the first 24 hours of the campaign. Infantry and armored units were already headed to the Gaza border for a possible ground invasion.