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Olmert Threatens Force Against All Responsible for Capture of Israeli Soldier


Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has threatened to use force against all those who strike his country.

Mr. Olmert spoke Tuesday in the town of Sderot, which has been hit over the last few months by rockets fired from the Gaza Strip.

He spoke as a militant-imposed deadline passed for Israel to release Palestinian prisoners in exchange for a captured Israeli soldier.

The Israeli leader said his country will not bow to blackmail and knows when to strike a decisive blow.

Israel has held Syria and Hamas leaders in Damascus responsible for the capture of the soldier, Corporal Gilad Shalit.

Last week, Israeli aircraft strafed a summer palace of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

As the deadline passed, a spokesman, Osama al-Muzaini for Hamas said the militant Islamic group has pulled out of talks with Egyptian mediators aimed at resolving the crisis.

One of the groups holding the soldier now says no further information will be disclosed about him.

Palestinian militants kidnapped the soldier June 25th.

The militants had set a morning deadline Tuesday for Israel to release one thousand Palestinian prisoners in exchange for him.

Israel has refused. Israel is continuing airstrikes in the Gaza Strip.

A strike in northern Gaza early today killed one person and wounded at least two others.

Israel said it targeted militants planting bombs. An Israeli newspaper, Ha'aretz is reporting that paratroopers have crossed into the central Gaza Strip and are searching for tunnels dug near the border by terrorists.

In the West Bank, Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian man when they entered Jenin on an arrest raid.

Israeli troops also seized three Palestinians in Ramallah, suspecting them of a role in the killing of an 18-year-old Jewish settler last week.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and REUTERS.

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