Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday evening at a press conference in Jerusalem that Israel will respond “forcefully” to the barrage of at least 60 rockets that were fired at southern Israel earlier in the day, Israel’s Walla reported.
“If there won’t be quiet in the south, there will be noise in Gaza, and this is an understatement,” the prime minister promised. “We will not be deterred from harming those who try to harm us, and we will continue to respond forcefully against terrorists in the Gaza Strip.”
Also present at the press conference was British Prime Minister David Cameron, who is visiting Israel this week. He condemned the attacks as “unacceptable.”
“I say with one voice: a Palestinian state can only be established through dialogue and not through terrorism,” he added.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s rocket fire – the single biggest such assault since Israel’s 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense. The Israeli Defense Forces responded immediately by targeting two terror locations in northern and southern Gaza.
Israel’s President Shimon Peres also addressed the rocket attacks from Gaza. “We cannot behave as though nothing happened and I’m sure the government will take the necessary steps to stop it,” he said.
“Hamas must understand that you can’t have it both ways, we shall not accept Gaza as a center of terror, we cannot permit it,” he said. “It’s not just a matter of wounded or killed; it’s a million and a half people who won’t have security or a night’s sleep. We’d clearly like to have peace but we must stop the terror. We’re not interested in raising the flames but we decided to stop the fire.”
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said, “We will not let Islamic Jihad or anybody else in Gaza disrupt the life of Israel’s citizens. When it’s not quiet in southern Israel, it won’t be quiet in Gaza — so that the terrorists will regret their rocket fire.”
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman told Israel’s Channel 2 on Wednesday evening that any Israeli response to the onslaught must include the retaking of Gaza. “There is no alternative to a full reoccupation of the entire Gaza Strip,” he said.