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Olmert: Israel inching toward action in Gaza

Israel is inching toward using military force against Hamas in the Gaza Strip because Egyptian cease-fire efforts there are not “ripening,” Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Thursday.

Olmert, who was wrapping up a U.S. visit dominated by discussions on the dangers of a nuclear Iran, said Israel was not eager to carry out a military operation in the Hamas-controlled territory but would not be deterred if the threat continued.

“As it looks now, it's closer to a military operation than to another arrangement,” he told reporters. The reason is because Egyptian peace efforts “are not ripening in a way that can bring a cease-fire,” he added.

On Thursday, Olmert met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Child killed in Gaza

Meanwhile, Palestinian mortar fire killed a man at a factory in southern Israel on Thursday, prompting an Israeli airstrike that apparently missed its target and killed a 6-year-old girl in the Gaza Strip.

The bloodshed came a day after moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for renewed dialogue with Hamas.