Text size

Defense Minister Amir Peretz said Wednesday that Israel does not intend to gamble with the lives of its citizens, and its restraint in the face of continued Qassam rocket fire is limited.

Peretz also said there is no cease-fire in the West Bank and therefore Israel Defense Forces operations will continue in that area.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned earlier Wednesday that Israel's restraint is on the verge of coming to an end. Olmert made the comments during a press conference in Jerusalem with Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.

Seven Qassam rockets were fired at southern Israel on Wednesday, after two wanted Islamic Jihad activists were killed earlier in the day by special police forces near the West Bank city of Jenin.

One of the rockets hit near the southern city of Ashkelon on Wednesday evening. Two additional Qassam rockets hit near the Sufa checkpoint, between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip, according to Israel Radio.

Three Qassam rockets were fired at the western Negev early Wednesday afternoon, and in Gaza, Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was the avenging the deaths of its members.

One of the rockets landed at a kibbutz in the Sha'ar Hanegev regional council, another landed next to a cemetery, and a third slammed into the entrance of a western Negev community.

There were no injuries or damage reported in any of the incidents.

The two wanted men, identified as Salah Suwafta and Hussam Ayissa, were shot dead as they tried to flee a building surrounded by the Israeli forces in the village of Silat al-Hartiya, west of Jenin.

The two had killed two police dogs accompanying the Israeli forces. Palestinian security officials said the force entered Silat al-Hartiya and surrounded a house, waging a gunbattle with the militants barricaded inside.

The army said the two militants were involved in attempts to carry out bomb attacks in Israel, and that troops had killed them during an attempted arrest operation.

"The two were involved in attempts to carry out a number of suicide attacks inside Israel," an Israel Defense Forces spokesman said.

Islamic Jihad announced over mosque loudspeakers around the northern West Bank that the two men were members of the group.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.