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Israel Launches Airstrikes in Gaza

Israel has launched an air strike on the Gaza Strip. Palestinian medical sources say two Palestinians were killed in the attacks. The Israeli military confirmed the attacks on Saturday. The Palestinian Popular Resistance Committees said earlier they had fired rockets into Israel.

Israeli warplanes bombed smuggling tunnels on the Gaza border with Egypt. The attack occurred after Palestinian militants fired several mortar shells into southern Israel. The tunnels are used to smuggle commercial goods, as well as weapons to the Islamic militant group Hamas that rules Gaza.

Israel had also launched air strikes on Friday after Palestinian militants in Gaza fired rockets.

Palestinian rocket and mortar attacks have dropped off sharply since Israel launched a massive three-week assault on Gaza in January. The war followed years of Palestinian cross-border attacks that terrorized Israeli cities and towns.

The new Israeli government, led by right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, says it is adopting a tougher approach to Palestinian attacks than the previous government. Mr. Netanyahu's advisor Dore Gold says it is a policy of "zero tolerance."

"Well, I think there's a growing sense in the Israeli public, and that probably was reflected in the results of the elections, that these kind of attacks are completely intolerable," said Gold.

Gold says the targeting of innocent civilians can no longer go unpunished.

"These are citizens of the State of Israel. The primary responsibility of a government is to protect its citizens," he said.

Egyptian-mediated talks on a long-term ceasefire bogged down after Israel linked any truce to the release of a captive Israeli soldier held by Hamas for nearly three years in Gaza. Hamas is demanding the release of about a thousand Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the soldier, including top militants responsible for deadly suicide bombings. So far, Israel has refused to pay the price.