Rocket blast injures 50 Israeli soldiers

At least 50 Israeli soldiers have been wounded by two rockets fired into Israel by Palestinian fighters in the Gaza Strip, an Israeli military spokesman said.

 Rocket blast injures 50 Israeli soldiers
At least 50 Israeli soldiers have been wounded by two rockets fired into Israel by Palestinian fighters in the Gaza Strip, an Israeli military spokesman said.

The rockets hit the Zikim base north of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning.

The soldiers were evacuated to hospitals by two helicopters and about 20 ambulances.

There was no immediate information on the extent of their injuries.

Palestinian fighters in Gaza regularly fire rockets and mortar rounds at Israel and while most fall in open spaces, some strike populated areas, particularly the town of Sderot, but only occasionally cause casualties.

It is the highest injury toll in months, although two Israelis died in separate attacks in May.

The soldiers were sleeping in a tent when the rockets hit.

Israeli warning

Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, said last week that Israel would "without hesitation and without pity" launch counterstrikes against fighters who fired the homemade rockets.

Last week, Olmert ordered the army to draw up plans to curb the fire, but did not endorse water and power cuts on Gaza's beleaguered population.

Pressure on Olmert to respond to the regular rocket fire has mounted recently after a projectile landed near a day-care centre in Sderot a day after the start of the school year. There were no casualties.

Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, was quoted as telling ministers that until Israel has completed development of a rocket interception system, "the only solution is deep ground operations in Gaza".

"The time may be approaching where it will necessary to launch a major ground operation to stop the rocket fire," he was quoted as saying in a speech to directors of Israel's main arms manufacturing firms.

Agencies

Last Mod: 11 Eylül 2007, 10:44
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