Israel warns It Will Act Against Rockets

Israel will take military action against Palestinian rocket-launching squads in the Gaza Strip despite a month-old cease-fire, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office said on Wednesday.

"A directive has been given to the defence establishment to take pinpoint action against the rocket-launching squads," Olmert's office said in a statement, a day after Qassam rockets wounded two people in southern Israel.

Israelis stand next to where a rocket fired from Gaza landed near the southern Israeli town of Sderot December 26, 2006.

"In parallel, Israel will continue to maintain the cease-fire and work with the Palestinian Authority so that immediate steps are taken to halt the Qassam firings," the statement said, appearing to suggest no major offensive would be launched.

The statement was issued at the end of consultations between Olmert and security chiefs.

Olmert has come under growing public criticism for failing to retaliate for more than 60 rockets fired by militants in the Gaza Strip since a November 26 truce, while also under U.S. and European pressure to keep the cease-fire.

A 14-year-old boy was in critical condition and another, also 14, was seriously wounded by the rocket that slammed into a street near a house in the town of Sderot, a frequent target of rockets.

Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian militant group, claimed its forces had fired the rocket, and called it retaliation for Israel's continued military raids on its hideouts in the occupied West Bank.

The truce had halted Israeli-Palestinian fighting in and near the Gaza Strip, but Israel has continued raids it says are to prevent attacks from being launched from the West Bank.

Israel has killed 15 Palestinians since the cease-fire began, all but one in the West Bank. About half were gunmen.

Source : AFP

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