Gaza rocket wounds about 30 Israeli soldiers (video)
( Reuters ) - A rocket fired by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday wounded some 30 soldiers in Israel in an attack likely to increase pressure on Israeli leaders to take strong action in the Hamas-controlled territory.
The Popular Resistance Committees claimed responsibility for the strike on the Zikkim training base for new recruits just north of the border, two days before Israel celebrates Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
An army spokesman said about 30 soldiers were wounded by the rocket. Officials at hospitals in southern Israel said some 50 soldiers were brought in but some were suffering only from shock.
The number of wounded was the highest in a single rocket attack launched from the Gaza Strip, which Hamas Islamists took over during fighting against the long-dominant Fatah faction of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas three months ago.
Israeli media reports said shrapnel from the rocket ripped through a tent where soldiers were sleeping.
Militants in Gaza frequently fire Qassam rockets across the border. Most land harmlessly but since a Palestinian uprising began in 2000, 12 people have been killed in the salvoes.
The strike on the army base seemed certain to boost calls in Israel for a large-scale ground operation in the Gaza Strip against militants behind the rocket launchings.
Questions also were likely to be raised in Israel over why recruits at the base were sleeping in tents, rather than in more secure structures, in an area prone to rocket attacks.
Last week, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's security cabinet decided against launching a major assault in the Gaza Strip after a rocket landed near a children's day care centre, opting instead for what it called "pinpoint attacks" against militants.
Israeli leaders said at the time they would also examine the possibility of cutting off Israeli-supplied power to the Gaza Strip, which is dependent on electricity and fuel from its neighbor, if the rockets continued to fly.
Israeli officials have said that sending in troops to confront well-armed Palestinian gunmen would lead to heavy casualties on both sides.
Israel pulled troops and settlers out of the Gaza Strip in 2005. But militant groups consider the territory still occupied because Israel controls its borders, air space and coastal waters.