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    Israel warns of military offensive in Gaza

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    Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom warned on Friday of a possible military offensive in the Gaza Strip after recent Palestinian rocket attacks.

    Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom warned on Friday of a possible military offensive in the Gaza Strip after recent Palestinian rocket attacks.

    "If this rocket fire against Israel does not stop, it appears we will have to raise the level of our activity and step up our actions against Hamas," Shalom said over public radio.

    Military authorities reported on Thursday the Israeli Army distributed a number of leaflets in Gaza City warning Palestinians to expect some kind of Israeli retaliation for the killing of two Israeli soldiers.

    Last Friday, two Israeli soldiers as well as two Palestinian militants were killed in a shootout in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

    Tensions between Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and Israel intensified after a recent Israeli government announcement that it gave the go-ahead for the building of 1,600 new housing units for Jewish families in the disputed area of East Jerusalem.

    The Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have recently increased rocket fire toward Israel.

    A rocket was fired from the Palestinian enclave into an empty field in southern Israel on Wednesday, causing damage but no casualties.

    As many as 20 rocket attacks have landed on Israel's territory over the past month, one of which killed a 30-year-old farm worker from Thailand. In response to the attack, Israeli aircraft bombed six targets in the Gaza Strip, injuring two civilians.

    In mid-December 2008, the Israeli armed forces launched an offensive in the Gaza Strip, killing some 1,400 people in response to Palestinian rocket attacks on southern Israel.

    The Gaza Strip has been the subject of an almost continuous Israeli blockade since the radical Islamic group Hamas took control of the enclave in the summer of 2007, ousting President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement in a bloody five-day war.

    TEL AVIV/GAZA, April 2 (RIA Novosti)

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