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Last Updated: Friday, 21 April 2006, 11:52 GMT 12:52 UK
Israel 'could occupy Gaza again'
Israeli tank on the Gaza border
Israel has been shelling Gaza in an attempt to stop Palestinian rockets
An Israeli general has said Israel will consider re-occupying part or all of Gaza, if Palestinian militants continue firing rockets across the border.

Gen Yoav Galant said the move would be considered if such attacks reached an intolerable level, or involved more powerful, longer-range weapons.

Gen Galant is head of the Israeli military's southern command.

Palestinian militants in Gaza frequently fire short-range and crudely made rockets into Israel.

The rockets rarely cause significant damage or casualties.

Israeli forces say they fired more than 2,000 artillery shells into the northern Gaza Strip, in the first two weeks of April. Israel says this is an attempt to halt the growing number of rocket attacks by Palestinian militants.

A number of civilians have been killed and injured in the shelling.

'Operational plans'

"I don't want to get there, but if necessary we can re-occupy part or all of the Gaza Strip, and there are operational plans," Gen Galant told the Israeli Maariv newspaper.

He said Israeli forces were "already operating inside the Gaza Strip", but did not give any details.

Gen Galant's comments echo those of other army Israeli officers.

Two senior army officers also gave newspaper interviews recently saying that ground operations could be launched in the future in Gaza.

Israel withdrew its settlers and soldiers from Gaza last September, after almost four decades of military occupation.


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