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No repeat of Gaza campaign, says Israeli defence minister

An Israeli missile strike and Palestinian mortar attacks further strained a shaky calm in Gaza Monday as Israel's defence minister said a wider offensive is not planned.

An Israeli missile strike and Palestinian mortar attacks further strained a shaky calm in Gaza Monday as Israel's defence minister said a wider offensive is not planned.

Palestinian medics said four militants were injured Monday when an Israeli warplane attacked a vehicle in Rafah, a town along Gaza's southern border with Egypt.

Israel said the militants had been responsible for firing two mortar bombs into southern Israel earlier Monday. No damage or casualties were reported.

Sporadic rocket attacks have continued against Israel since Hamas and Israel declared unilateral ceasefires on Jan. 18. In the most serious incident, an Israeli soldier was killed and three fellow soldiers were wounded in a blast near the Kissufim border crossing last Tuesday. Israel responded with air raids and a brief ground incursion by soldiers and tanks.

On Sunday, at least two rockets launched from Gaza hit southern Israel. Two Israeli soldiers and one Israeli civilian were injured in the rocket attacks.

Israel responded by firing on a building it said was used by Hamas as well as smuggling tunnels running beneath the Gaza-Egypt border.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had warned Sunday the Jewish state would carry out a "disproportionate" response to continued rocket fire, while Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Israel was willing to mount a new offensive.

However on Monday, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said the government has no plans to carry out a repeat of Operation Cast Lead,  the recent 22-day military campaign aimed at ending Hamas rocket attacks, said Reuters.

"It is not our intention to have an Operation Cast Lead 2," he said in an interview with the YNet news website. "We said there would be a response and there was a response last night."

At least 1,285 Palestinians were killed during last month's military operation, according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. Thirteen Israelis, including three civilians, were also killed during the fighting, according to the government.

Barak, who leads the Labour party, and Kadima party chief Livni are both candidates for prime minister in Israel's Feb. 10 election. Polls suggest Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu is the frontrunner.

Corrections

  • We originally said there were no reports of casualties or damage when two rockets launched from Gaza hit southern Israel on Sunday. In fact, although some initial reports said there were no injuries, it later emerged that two Israeli soldiers and one Israeli civilian had been hurt.
    Feb 04, 2009 4:39 PM ET

With files from the Associated Press