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Israel Mulls Response to Palestinian Rocket Attacks

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is meeting with his top cabinet ministers and military commanders Wednesday, to discuss Israel's response to Palestinian rocket attacks.

The armed wing of the Palestinian militant group Hamas said Tuesday that a five-month truce with Israel was over and that it fired a barrage of rockets and mortar shells from the Gaza Strip.

Hamas' armed wing the Izzedin al-Qassam Brigades said it was avenging Israel's killing of nine Palestinians a few days ago.

Israel said the attacks caused no injuries or damage.

Meanwhile, Egyptian security officials are preparing to meet in Gaza Wednesday, with leaders of Hamas' armed wing and other militant groups to try to prevent a further escalation of violence.

On Tuesday, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas blamed Israel for the escalation, but he stopped short of saying the truce is over.

Israel blames Hamas militants for the escalation, saying they have been involved in helping other militants attack the Jewish state.

In other news, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met Tuesday with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi as part of Mr. Abbas' European tour.

The Italian prime minister denounced Hamas militants for breaking the ceasefire with Israel, but Mr. Abbas said the truce violation was an exceptional act. He added that serious efforts must be made to control the situation and ensure that more attacks do not occur.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.