Israeli premier rules out retaliatory offensive in Gaza for now


April 26, 2007|By Los Angeles Times

JERUSALEM -- Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ruled out for now a broad offensive in the Gaza Strip, the day after Hamas militants fired a barrage of rockets and declared an end to a five-month cease-fire.

However, Israel warned yesterday that it would take whatever steps it deems necessary to bar future attacks.

"All options are on the table," said Miri Eisin, a government spokeswoman. "There will be no immediate wide-scale response, but that doesn't mean there won't be one later on."

Olmert met with top military and security officials to devise a response after Hamas fighters claimed to have fired nearly 100 Kassam rockets and mortar rounds a day earlier, as Israel was celebrating Independence Day. The Israeli military confirmed the firing of fewer than 15 projectiles. No one was hurt.

On Tuesday, the military wing of Hamas declared the truce over, though representatives of the Hamas-led Palestinian government called immediately for a restoration of the cease-fire.

Egyptian security officials in Gaza were in talks with members of Palestinian militant groups in an effort to get the cease-fire back on track.

The militant group said the rocket volley came in response to the deaths of nine Palestinians during Israeli operations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip over the weekend. It accused Israel of effectively ending the truce.

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