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Palestinian Rocket Attack Wounds at Least 66 Israeli Soldiers

More than 60 Israeli soldiers were wounded, several seriously, in a Palestinian rocket attack. As Robert Berger reports from VOA's Jerusalem bureau, Israel is weighing a response.

A Palestinian rocket crashed into an Israeli army base on the Gaza border as soldiers slept in their tents. The wounded soldiers were recruits undergoing basic training.

It was the biggest number of injuries caused by a single Palestinian rocket, and comes a week after rockets disrupted the beginning of the school year in a nearby town.

Israeli officials are calling for a punishing military response. Public Security Minister Avi Dichter said Israel must restore deterrence in Gaza.

Dichter told Israel Radio that it is not a question of if Israel will restore deterrence, but when. Nevertheless, he said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and other senior officials are in no hurry to launch a major assault on Gaza, two years after Israel pulled out of the territory.

Gaza is the most densely populated place on earth, and an Israeli offensive could cause high casualties among soldiers and civilians. Also, officials say Israel does not want an escalation to mar the Jewish High Holy Days which begin Wednesday.

The Islamic Jihad group claimed responsibility for the rocket attack in a videotape.

Militants shouted "Allah hu akbar!" or "Allah is great!" as they fired the rocket at Israel.

The Islamic militant group Hamas, which seized control of Gaza during a civil war in June, described the attack as legitimate resistance. One Hamas official said it is a "victory from God."