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Israel's military operation in the Gaza Strip
Israel's military operation in the Gaza Strip is only at an early stage and there are no plans to stop it, the prime minister said on Tuesday during a meeting with the country's president.

Israel's Haaretz newspaper reported that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told President Shimon Peres that "the military operation is still in its initial stages, and the security cabinet is granting the IDF as much room for maneuver as it needs in order to reach the goals set by the government."

Olmert said that the main goal of the military operation was to stop rocket attacks from Gaza onto Israeli soil.

Areas that directly border Gaza have been declared a "closed military zone," and Tel Aviv has mobilized up to 6,500 reservists and deployed tanks on the border in preparation for a possible ground offensive.

At least 13 Palestinians were killed and 40 wounded overnight in the continuing Israeli airstrikes, a Palestinian emergencies official said on Tuesday, adding that 363 had now died in the four-day offensive and some 1,750 injured,

Israel's transport minister, Shaul Mofaz, said "additional military equipment" is needed for the success of the military campaign.

"We are determined to stop the rocket fire [on Israel's territory] near the border with Gaza. This is why we need additional military equipment," said Mofaz, who is also a member of Israel's security cabinet. "Right now we have no intention of stopping the operation."

In response to Israeli airstrikes, Palestinian militants launched over 80 rockets and mortar shells on southern Israel killing four people with over 35 others injured, some of them seriously.

Foreign ministers of EU countries will gather in Paris later Tuesday for emergency talks on Gaza. The meeting, to be chaired by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, will focus on combining efforts with the rest of the international community to find a way to overcome the crisis.


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