Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says his country will attack Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip as long as rocket fire on southern Israel continues. He spoke as Israeli forces pursued a Gaza offensive that has killed about 25 Palestinians, mostly militants.
Mr. Olmert said Thursday in Tel Aviv that Israel has no desire to harm Gaza's residents, but cannot tolerate what he called "unending" rocket fire on Israeli citizens. He said Israel will act with precision to put an end to the rocket attacks.
Militants fired more rockets into southern Israel Thursday.
Israel responded with fierce military action. Palestinian health sources say an air strike killed a militant leader and his wife in northern Gaza.
Gaza is ruled by the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which rejects Israel's right to exist.
Palestinian militants have launched more than 70 rockets into southern Israel this week.
In response to the Israeli offensive, exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal on Wednesday ruled out freeing a captured Israeli soldier, Corporal Gilad Shalit. Palestinian militants captured Shalit in Israel near the Gaza border in June 2006.
Israeli forces frequently conduct raids in the West Bank and Gaza to hunt down militants involved in attacks on Israelis. Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in June in fighting with the rival Fatah group of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.