tampabay.com

Israel's prime minister vows to pursue militants

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published May 28, 2007


JERUSALEM - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday vowed to widen the fight against Palestinian militants with fresh airstrikes after a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip killed an Israeli.

"No one involved in terror is immune, " Olmert said at his government's weekly Cabinet meeting. "There will be no limit in acting against the terror groups and against those who are responsible for the terror."

It was not clear whether Olmert's comments meant that Israelis would target political leaders of the militant group Hamas, a tactic it has used in the past. Hamas is now the senior partner in the Palestinian coalition government.

Hamas rebuffed efforts by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to broker a cease-fire and said rocket attacks against Israel would continue.

Israeli forces and Palestinian militants have been locked in a cycle of violence since May 15, when militants, and specifically Hamas, began repeated rocket attacks into Israel. More than 40 Palestinians, mostly militants, have died from Israeli strikes, and Israeli army officials said that militants have launched more than 230 rockets from Gaza.

Sunday's deadly rocket landed in Sderot and killed Oshri Oz, 36, the second Israeli rocket fatality in a week. In a statement, Hamas took responsibility for the rocket and expressed support for the squad that fired it.

Sunday night, two more rockets were fired into Sderot, one hitting a house and injuring a resident. Also Sunday night, Israel launched airstrikes on targets in northern and southern Gaza. No casualties were reported.

Olmert cautioned Sunday that Israel faced a "long-term confrontation" and that Israel would have to act independently of any internal Palestinian agreements or calls to halt fire.

"We will decide where, how and to what extent we act, " he said. "We are acting without any limitation or directive from anyone."

The violence comes as Israel's Labor Party is to hold its leadership race today. The centrist party is the largest of three junior partners in the ruling coalition with Olmert's Kadima Party. But both front-runners in today's race have said they will work to topple Olmert.

Information from the Associated Press, Chicago Tribune and New York Times was used in this report.