Israel on Friday threatened a widescale military operation against the Gaza Strip after a string of air strikes which wounded three Palestinian children following rocket attacks from the enclave.
Israel's deputy prime minister, Silvan Shalom, warned that the military would soon launch a new offensive on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip unless the rocket fire was halted. "If this rocket fire against Israel does not stop, it seems we will have to raise the level of our activity and step up our actions against Hamas," Shalom told public radio.
"We won't allow frightened children to again be raised in bomb shelters and so, in the end, it will force us to launch another military operation," said the deputy premier. "I hope we can avoid it, but it is one of the options we have, and if we don't have a choice, we will use it in the near future," he said.
Three Palestinian children -- aged two, four and 11 -- were hit by flying glass in one of Israel's six overnight raids, said Moawiya Hassanein, head of the Palestinian emergency services in Gaza.
Meanwhile, the head of Hamas government in the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniya, reacted by blaming the Jewish state for the increase in tensions. "We call on the international community to intervene to stop this escalation and Israeli aggression," Haniya said in a statement, according to he AP.