JERUSALEM (AFP) — Israel said on Thursday it favoured an extension of a truce in and around Gaza, despite an outbreak of violence in which seven Palestinians were killed and dozens of rockets were fired at the Jewish state.
"We hope the truce can again be applied, we believe in this truce and it looks like things are calming down," deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai told Israeli army radio.
He spoke one day after militants in the Gaza Strip fired dozens of rockets and mortar rounds at Israel -- causing no casualties -- in response to the killing of seven Palestinian fighters in a Israeli military operation inside the besieged territory.
Vilnai said Israeli troops were deployed in Gaza on Tuesday night to blow up a tunnel that was to be used "in a major attack against Israel that would have torpedoed the truce."
The incidents on Tuesday and Wednesday were the most serious since a six-month truce mediated by Egypt went into effect on June 19.
But Vilnai warned that Israel would not hesitate to act if the need arises.
"We know what happens on the other side and we act accordingly."
In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said an extension of the truce agreement would require "consultations by the Palestinian factions that approved it."
But he stressed that an extension of the truce "would not prevent the resistance from responding to violations by the occupation."
The comments came just hours before US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was scheduled to arrive in the region to push anew for an agreement that would define the outlines of a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.
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