The Israeli army will carry out more military operations in the Gaza Strip to prevent Palestinian rocket attacks and arms smuggling from Egypt, the defense minister said Tuesday.

Defense Minister Amir Peretz, on a tour of the Israel-Gaza border, spoke hours after the army ended a weeklong operation along the Gaza-Egypt border.

The military's operation along the border corridor was meant to find and blow up tunnels used by militants to smuggle arms into Gaza. The army said it destroyed 15 tunnels during the operation, the first along the border since Israel withdrew from Gaza in September 2005.

The army will not reoccupy or remain in Gaza, Peretz said. But it will operate continuously to ensure that militants in the coastal area are not able to arm themselves in the same way Hezbollah guerrillas were able to do so in southern Lebanon after Israel ended its occupation of the area in May 2000.

"We will do everything necessary to ensure that Gaza does not turn into south Lebanon," Peretz said.

During a monthlong war last summer, Hezbollah attacked Israel with thousands of rockets it had stockpiled during the six years since Israel left the area.

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