Israel ready to strike harder: Netanyahu warns Gaza militants



Jerusalem: Israel's hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday warned that his administration was ready "to step up its response" in wake of renewed rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.

Six Palestinians were killed while 32 others injured when Israeli aircraft today struck the Gaza Strip after militants overnight fired close to 50 rockets and mortars into the Jewish nation, leaving four army men injured.

"They're sustaining harsh hits from the Israel Defence Forces (IDF)," Netanyahu told ministers at a weekly cabinet meeting.

"The terror organisations are taking tough blows from the IDF and Israel won't sit idly by. We are ready to step up our response," the Israeli Premier said.

Two members of Islamic Jihad's military wing were killed in an Israeli air strike early today, raising the death toll to six since a brief ceasefire brokered by Egypt was completely shattered yesterday.

The Al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad's military wing, said Muhammad Obeid was killed in an air strike in the northern Gaza Strip and Muhammad Shukanj was killed in an attack near al-Karama towers in the north. Four others were wounded and one is in critical condition, the brigades said.

Israeli tank shells killed four Palestinians and wounded 30 in the the coastal Strip yesterday, medics and witnesses in Gaza said.

Israel's army said four of its soldiers were injured when an "anti-tank missile was fired at an IDF patrol along the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip" late yesterday.

Israeli forces targeted several sites in response, the army statement added.

Islamic Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip since a violent takeover in June 2007, said the attack was in retaliation for the death of a Palestinian child by IDF fire on Thursday.

PTI