Israel promises strong response to Gaza rocket fire

March 1st, 2009 - 9:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Jerusalem /Gaza, March 1 (DPA) Continued Palestinian rocket fire from the Gaza Strip on southern Israel will be met with “a painful, sharp, strong and uncompromising response”, outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert threatened Sunday.
Speaking at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, he warned that “the State of Israel has a wide range of options that will be utilised in order to bring complete quiet to the south” and said the Israel action would “in no way be what the terrorist organisations expect”.

Olmert made the remarks after militants in the Strip fired at least eight rockets at southern Israel Friday and Saturday and said the militias were trying to make up for the losses they suffered during Israel’s 22-day offensive against them, which ended Jan 18.

Israel launched the devastating offensive Dec 27, after the end of a truce with the militias saw an increase in rocket fire from the Strip.

In the enclave itself, meanwhile, heavy rains Sunday morning caused a smuggling tunnel under the Gaza Strip-Sinai border to cave in, killing five Palestinians, medical officials said.

A sixth Palestinian who was working in the tunnel at the tine of its collapse is still missing, witnesses said.

Another Palestinian was killed Saturday in a similar tunnel collapse.

Since December Israel has been bombing the tunnels under the Gaza Strip-Egypt border, weakening them and making it easier for them to collapse in bad weather.

Palestinians use the tunnels to smuggle into the salient goods made scarce by the Israeli blockade, and also use them as conduits for weapons to the militant groups in the enclave.

Approximately 50 Palestinians were killed in the cross-border tunnels last year, mainly due to Egypt’s efforts to fight the smuggling.

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