Olmert Orders Barak to Act Swiftly Against Gaza Rocket Attacks

PM aides: Defense minister claimed army can't effectively target rocket launchers due to bad weather.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ordered Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday to implement a military response to the ongoing rocket fire as soon as possible, in accordance with a cabinet decision taken last week.

"The cabinet decided that if the firing continues from the Gaza Strip, it will be met with a painful, harsh, strong and uncompromising response from the security forces," Olmert said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.

Palestinians have launched more than 110 rockets and mortar shells at Israel since the military operation in Gaza ended in a cease-fire January 18, according to the IDF.

Palestinians fired three Qassam rockets on Israel Sunday, which caused no injuries. They came on the heels of eight rockets fired on the south over the weekend, including a Qassam that exploded in an empty Ashkelon school yard and was classified by defense officials as an "improved" rocket.

Barak said the Israel Defense Forces was currently having difficulty operating because of the stormy weather.

In a meeting with Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon, Olmert said the Palestinians in Gaza have not halted their fire, adding that if the violence doesn't stop, Israel will probably have to react with great intensity.

Meanwhile, former British prime minister Tony Blair toured Gaza Sunday for the first time since becoming the envoy of the Quartet for Mideast peace and called on Israel to end the blockade of the Strip as soon as possible. He said Gaza should receive all the goods it needs to recover from the Israeli offensive, not just food and oil.