Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni travelled to Cairo on Thursday to discuss growing tensions along the Israel-Gaza Strip border and the prospects of renewing an Egyptian-brokered calm that ended last week. Livni's talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak come a day after Palestinians in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip launched more than 80 rockets and mortars at southern Israel and an Israeli air strike killed a Hamas activist.
Israeli cabinet minister Meir Sheetrit said on Israel Radio that Livni will "tell Mubarak and the Egyptians that Israel will not tolerate the situation of Hamas firing at towns in the south."
On his part, Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned on Thursday that armed groups in the Strip would pay a "heavy price" if they continued to target Israel. Barak insisted that "we will not accept this situation." "Whoever harms the citizens and soldiers of Israel will pay big time," he warned.
According to Israeli press reports, the Israeli army is currently preparing for a massive attack against Hamas targets in Gaza Strip. In an initial retaliatory measure, an Israeli strike killed a Hamas gunman in the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday.
"Our response will be substantial and painful to Hamas," the official said, according to Haaretz.
Palestinian gunners renewed cross-border attacks early Thursday, firing a Qassam rocket and a number of mortar rounds into southern Israel region.