The Israeli army launched a larger-than-usual incursion into southern Gaza on Tuesday as part of an ongoing effort to curb Palestinian rocket and mortar fire.
Army officials acknowledged the the inclusion of 10 tanks and armored bulldozers in the raid made it appear to be an escalation of Israel's war on Gaza's terrorist infrastructure, but stressed that the operation was a routine action and not the start of the full-scale land invasion of Gaza Defense Minister Ehud Barak threatened to launch if Gaza-based terrorists did not stop attacking southern Israel.
During the operation, six armed Palestinian terrorists were killed by tank fire and airborne missiles, and another 60 terror suspects were apprehended. Four Israeli soldiers were lightly wounded when a Palestinian anti-tank missile slammed into one of the Israeli vehicles.
In related news, the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday rejected a Supreme Court petition filed by residents of the southern Israel town of Sderot demanding that the government fortify their homes against ongoing Palestinian rocket attacks.
The residents insisted the government is obligated to do everything in its power to defend its citizens, and noted that when Israel pulled its military forces out of Gaza in 2005, Mr. Olmert, who was the primary driving force behind the disengagement, adamantly declared that the first Palestinian rocket to be fired from a Jew-free Gaza would result in a crushing Israeli response. Thousands of rockets later, the government has yet to launch the promised retaliation.