Gaza attacks follow Olmert threat

Israeli PM vows to continue crackdown as Hamas claims deadly rocket strike on Sderot.

    The Hamas attack on Sderot left
    one dead and one injured [AFP]

    Hamas response

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    Reacting to Olmert's comments, Hamas said it would not halt rocket fire against Israel, as proposed by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president.

    Ayman Taha, a Hamas spokesman, said: "Therefore we have no choice but to defend our people. We will not surrender and we will not raise the white flag."

    Israeli police said the man killed in Sderot was 35 and had died of his wounds in hospital. The homemade rockets are rarely fatal, but cause widespread panic among the town's residents.


    The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, claimed responsibility for the attack.


    Air offensive


    Israel carried out three aerial assaults consecutively in northern Gaza on Sunday night, one setting a Hamas Executive Force position on fire, another destroying a Hamas charity and a third destroying a Hamas position in Beit Lahiya, Hamas and witnesses said.

    Hamas said an Israeli jet fired a missile at a military command headquarters in southern Gaza earlier, and also struck in an open field to target a rocket crew.


    There were no reported injuries in any of the attacks, four of which were confirmed by an Israeli military spokeswoman.


    Israel has continued its air
    assault on Gaza [Reuters]

    On Saturday, Israel
    detained a Palestinian cabinet minister in the occupied West Bank.


    Wasfi Kabha, of Hamas, was the second cabinet minister seized since Thursday, when Israel detained Naser al-Shaer, the education minister, and 32 other officials in the West Bank.


    Washington voiced misgivings about the detentions, but said Israel had a right to defend itself.


    The recent surge of violence has dashed hopes for a renewed truce called for by Abbas, whose Fatah movement is part of a unity government with Hamas.


    More than 220 rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza since May 15, the Israeli military said.


    Abu Ubaida al-Jarrah, chief commander of Hamas's Executive Force, said on Saturday: "Our message to the Zionist enemy is that you have no future on our land." 


    Abbas wants both sides to agree to a ceasefire with Israel as a step towards reviving peace talks. Hamas has resisted his call while Israel continues its air assaults.


    Ismail Haniya, the Palestinian prime minister from Hamas, said: "This aggression will not achieve its goals but it will lead to further escalations that will have dangerous consequences."


    Although they are partners in government, Hamas and Fatah have fought bitter internal street battles in Gaza in recent weeks that have killed about 50 people.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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