Israel hits Gaza as PM pledges protection from rockets
Israeli troops killed four Palestinians, three of them militants, in its latest assault on the Gaza Strip yesterday as Prime Minister Ehud Olmert unveiled plans to protect nearby homes from rockets.
Troops supported by helicopters moved into the southern Gaza Strip overnight, killing a civilian and three militants from the armed wing of the Islamist Hamas movement that has ruled the Strip since June, medics said.
"The army is operating in the south of the Gaza Strip against the infrastructures of terrorist organisations," an Israeli military spokesman told AFP. "We attacked armed men."
The latest deaths came as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert unveiled plans to reinforce Israeli homes near the border with Gaza, which have come under near-daily rocket and mortar attack in recent months.
"I will convene a ministerial committee on the issue of reinforcing homes in the area of Sderot and the area surrounding Gaza," Olmert said at the weekly cabinet meeting, referring to the southern Israeli town most hit by rockets.
"It is part of several steps Israel is taking to counter Qassam (rocket) fire," including continuing military operations and economic sanctions.
"Fifteen schools are already completely secure, and today we will decide on proposals which will be brought for government approval next week and are aimed at completing reinforcement measures," Olmert said.
The proposal would protect some 8,000 houses at a cost of around 97 million dollars (66 million euros), a senior official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
"This new project will cover the reinforcement of 8,000 of the 10,500 homes within a range of 7 kilometres (4.3 miles) from the Gaza border, including all the houses within 4.5 kilometres (2.8 miles)," the official said.
Until now the government has agreed to pay only for the part reinforcement of homes in areas vulnerable to fire from Palestinian militants in Gaza.