IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi on Monday said that Israel "will not accept" rocket and mortar fire from the Gaza Strip and is ready in the event that tensions further escalate in the area. Ashkenazi's coments came at a meeting with Italian Chief of Defense Gen. Vincenzio Camporini at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv.

"Two years after Operation Cast Lead, the situation in the Gaza Strip is different and calmer. Yet, sadly, from time to time, rockets and mortar shells are fired at the Israeli home front," said Ashkenazi. "The IDF holds the Hamas terrorist organization solely responsible for any terrorist activity emanating from the Gaza Strip. We hope that the security situation in the south does not deteriorate, however the IDF is preparing for any scenario," he added.

Ashkenazi commented on the close ties between the Italian and Israeli military forces as well, saying that "relations between the IDF and the Italian military are very important and are based on mutual values and interests. Italy is a great friend of Israel and is one of the most involved forces in the region. It contributes great numbers of forces to UNIFIL and in Afghanistan, and in the war on terror."

Camporini called the meeting "a great opportunity to further strengthen the excellent relations between the two militaries, as manifested in mutual training and technology. Italy is present in the Middle East and is dealing with the important issue of stability in the region."

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