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Israeli Air Strike Kills More Palestinians in Gaza

Four Palestinian militants have been killed in an upsurge of violence in and around the Gaza Strip. Robert Berger reports from the VOA bureau in Jerusalem.

Israel launched a deadly air strike against Palestinian militants who were firing mortar shells across the Gaza border. The air raid also followed a Palestinian rocket attack.

The Islamic militant group Hamas that rules Gaza promised retaliation.

"Today's crime will not pass without punishment," said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.

But Hamas stopped short of saying that the five-month-old Gaza ceasefire is over, despite nearly two weeks of tit-for-tat attacks. During that period, 170 rockets and mortars have been fired at Israel and 15 Palestinian militants have been killed.

Israel also wants to preserve the cease-fire. But at the weekly Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he ordered the army to present plans for various operations against what he called the "Hamas terrorist regime."

Mr. Olmert said Israel is not eager for battle, but does not fear it.

In a bid to pressure Hamas to halt the rocket fire, Israel has shut its borders with Gaza since fighting erupted 12 days ago.

Chris Gunness, spokesman for the U.N. agency that feeds 750,000 Palestinians, says it is a catastrophe.

"We have no food. Our warehouses are empty. I cannot say it any clearer than that," Gunness said.

The United Nations and European Union have called for Israel to immediately reopen its border crossings with Gaza to prevent a humanitarian crisis.