Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert threatened on Sunday a "severe and disproportionate response" to Gaza after Palestinian fighters fired rockets into southern Israel.
"We've said that if there is rocket fire against the south of the country, there will be a severe and disproportionate Israeli response to the fire on the citizens of Israel and its security forces," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said at the weekly cabinet meeting.
Palestinian rockets cause no damage or casualties in Israel. Israel was slammed since killing more than 1,300 Palestinians, a third of them children in the 22-day military aggression on Gaza and wounded 5,300 Palestinians.
Critics said Israel had responded disproportionately, in its air and ground offensive in heavily populated areas in Gaza.
During Israeli assault in Gaza, 10 Israeli soldiers and three civilians were killed.
Olmert, who quit in a corruption scandal in September but stayed on as caretaker prime minister, is not running Israel's February 10 election.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, whose Labor Party is running in fourth place in some polls behind Likud, Kadima and the ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu party, said Israel would respond "in the proper manner" to attacks from the Gaza Strip.
Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister and head of Olmert's Kadima party, said that Israel must respond to rocket attacks "immediately".
"We mustn't sign arrangements with Hamas, but rather use force against this organisation," she said. "Israel will respond whether the Qassam causes injuries or not, and this is how I will act as prime minister as well. We must use force and a lot of force."
Hamas said that the statements were a "campaign stunt" in the run-up to the February 10 elections.
"We condemn the statements by Olmert and others today threatening the Gaza Strip," Taher al-Nunu, a Hamas spokesman, said in a statement on Sunday.
"This is an attempt to find a false excuse to escalate the aggression against the Palestinians, to destroy the Egyptian efforts to improve the calm and to use pressure against the Palestinian people to accept Israeli conditions in those talks."
"War crimes probes"
Israel now faces several war crimes probes after 22-day Gaza assault. The UN secretary-general announced an probe into the attack on the UN headquarters in the Gaza Strip.
A total of 53 installations used by the United Nations Relief and Works agency were damaged or destroyed during Israel's Gaza campaign including 37 schools - six of which were being used as emergency shelters - six health centres, and two warehouses.
UN officials say they have evidence that white phosphorous, a smokescreen agent that can cause severe burns, was used in the attack on the UN relief agency's main building in Gaza that left three people injured.
"Spain's High Court will launch a war crimes investigation into seven Israelis, including a former defence minister, over a 2002 attack that killed 14 civilians and a Hamas commander in the Gaza Strip, court papers also said.
But Israel took counter-steps to prevent war crimes trials and army said it would not reveal the names of the battalion commanders who oversaw the assault in the overcrowded slums and cities of Gaza "on the ground that they could face arrest and prosecution for war crimes if they travelled abroad".
Olmert also promised military personnel "state protection" from foreign prosecution over "war crimes" despite international calls to investigate Israel over alleged war crimes in the Gaza Strip.
AgenciesLast Mod: 02 Şubat 2009, 16:34