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Middle East

Israel sends in the jets, Obama envoy arrives in Israel

Article published on the 2009-01-28 Latest update 2009-02-09 12:53 TU

Israel's Defence Minister Ehud Barak speaks to reservists in southern Israel(Photo: Reuters)

Israel's Defence Minister Ehud Barak speaks to reservists in southern Israel
(Photo: Reuters)

Israeli jets on Wednesday bombed tunnels between the Gaza Strip and Egypt on Wednesday, after an attack Tuesday which killed one Israeli soldier and wounded three. Officials deny that the raid was a response to the attack. US special envoy George Mitchell has arrived in Israel after visting Egypt.

As Mitchel arrives on the second leg of his tour, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is to convene the Security Cabinet to discuss Tuesday's attack.

"The army's reaction today was only operational. This was not the response to the killing of a soldier and wounding of three others. Israel's response shall come," a senior government official quoted  Olmert as saying.

On Tuesday, Israeli soldiers briefly moved into Gaza and aircraft carried out several strikes, killing one person.

Before leaving Cairo, Mitchell called for the ceasefires declared by Israel and Hamas to be strengthened.

"It is of critical importance that the ceasefire be extended and consolidated," he said after meeting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. "We support Egypt's continuing efforts in that regard."

Mitchell said that his appointment less than a week after Barack Obama's inauguration was a sign of the new US President's commitment "to vigorously pursuing lasting peace and stability in the region."

Venzuela's Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro has denied that his government has ties with Hamas or Lebanon's Hezbollah movement and said that it is not anti-Semitic.

Caracas broke off diplomatic relations with Israel on 14 January over the Gaza offensive, a move which has been welcomed by Palestinians.

And the head of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, has cancelled planned interviews with the BBC, because the British broadcaster has refused to air a Gaza charity appeal.