Prime Minister Ehud Olmert arrived at Gaza periphery towns on Thursday evening for a visit kept quiet for security reasons. Olmert met with residents of Sderot and Kibbutz Gavim after an escalation of rocket attacks on the area from the Gaza Strip this week during which over 130 rockets were fired. Kibbutz residents expressed their fear over the continued barrages and demanded complete fortification for all the houses in the area. The prime minister was also told of heavy damage caused to the area's agriculture caused by the Kassam rockets. In response, the premier said he identified with the pain of the residents but failed to promise full protection of all of the houses. He said that he did not want to give false hope that all the houses could be fortified, but promised to do all that he could in the matter. The prime minister, who was accompanied by Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai and Defense Ministry Director General Raanan Dinor, said that he admitted that there would be tougher days. Nonetheless, he would do all in his power to secure the protection of the southern residents. Olmert insisted that IDF operations in the Gaza Strip would continue.