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Israeli defense minister: Ongoing rocket fire unacceptable
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20:03, December 22, 2008

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Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Monday that Israel will not accept the ongoing rocket fire from the Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

His remarks came four days after the expiration of the six-month ceasefire agreement between Israel and the Palestinian groups in Gaza, who announced they would not be renewing the truce.

"We have no intention of accepting the situation as it is developing in Gaza and we have no intention of accepting a continuation of fire on the Gaza envelope communities," Barak was quoted by the website of local daily Ha'aretz as saying during a meeting of the Labor Party's Knesset faction.

Earlier, Lt.-Gen Gabi Ashkenazi, chief of General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) vowed to deal with Hamas, which he said should be responsible for a reality where Gaza-belt residents are getting wounded.

"The IDF is prepared for every possible operation that could be required in the Gaza Strip... I present the different options to the political echelons, and we'll do what we're ordered to do," he told Israeli Army Radio.

Ashkenazi added that the situation with captive soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been held by Hamas for 911 days, is one of the army's considerations in deciding on military action in the Gaza Strip.

Throughout Sunday, 19 rockets fired from the Strip hit the western Negev, as well as at least three mortar shells, the spokesperson of IDF confirmed with Xinhua. One person was lightly wounded.

Israeli officials urged the government to take active military options against Palestinian militants in Gaza.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who supported the truce until recently, told a Kadima faction meeting on Sunday that "Israel needs to topple the Hamas government in Gaza, and a government led by me would do so."

Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who was touring the southern town of Sderot on Sunday, said "in the long run, there will be no choice but to topple the Hamas government."

However, Israeli outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert showed his restraint in dealing with rockets attacks, saying during Sunday's cabinet meeting that "a responsible government neither runs to battle nor runs from it."

Meanwhile, it was reported that Olmert and Barak met secretly last Thursday after receiving various security assessments, and decided to stage scaled responses to the continued rocket attacks.

Source: Xinhua

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