''One rocket hit a base,'' the spokesman said. ''Between 25 and 30 soldiers were hurt.'' The casualty toll was the highest ever caused by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, territory Hamas Islamists violently took over in fighting against the long-dominant Fatah faction three months ago.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the rocket strike.
Militants in Gaza frequently fire Qassam rockets towards southern Israel. Few of the attacks cause casualties but their psychological impact on life in the area has been significant.
The early morning strike on the army base was likely to increase calls in Israel for a massive ground operation in the Gaza Strip against militants behind the rocket salvoes.
Last week, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's security cabinet decided against launching a major assault in the territory after a rocket landed near a children's day care centre, opting instead for what it called ''pinpoint attacks'' against militants.
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.
REUTERS TB RN0528