Israel has decided to retaliate militarily after a rocket attack by Palestinian militants seriously injured two teenagers. But Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who met the Egyptian Foreign Minister in Jerusalem earlier, said Israel remains committed to the month-old ceasefire in Gaza. The two 14-year-old boys were wounded in the town of Sderot yesterday. One is in a critical condition.
Militants have fired more than 60 rockets at southern Israel since the truce came into affect last month. Fifteen Palestinians have been killed since the ceasefire began, half were civilians. Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility for yesterday’s strikes, saying they were revenge for Israel’s continued raids in the West Bank.
Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad said: “I think it came as a consistent policy for the Israeli government to continue their aggression against our people in the West Bank and Gaza City. But I confirm that there is an agreement, which is an agreement for a ceasefire.”
Meanwhile Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has met his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, ahead of a likely meeting between Mubarak and Olmert in January.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will visit Egypt later in the month, a trip which Abbas hopes will lead to serious talks regarding a lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.