Katz said he believed the coming hours could see “an escalation” in violence. “Whether it crosses the brink of a war we don’t want and they don’t want — that’s up to them and only them,” he said.
Tuesday saw at least 60 rockets and mortar shells launched into Israel from Gaza, as well as dozens of retaliatory strikes by the IDF against terror targets in the Strip, capping weeks of soaring tensions in the region stemming from weekly protests on the border. In an early morning mortar shell barrage, one shell exploded in the yard of a kindergarten shortly before children arrived.
“We may not have a choice, and we’ll be forced to hit Gaza and conquer it in order to end this terrorist regime once and for all,” Steinitz, a member of the high-level security cabinet, told the Ynet news site.
Netanyahu was meeting Tuesday evening with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, and the head of the Shin Bet security agency Nadav Argaman to discuss the escalation in the south.
President Reuven Rivlin said the violence was part of “open conflict with terrorist organizations supported by Iran…we are determined to defend our borders, our daily lives, and the lives of our people.” He added that Israel “will not accept the Iranian ring of terror tightening its grip in the north and in the south.”
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) called on the international community to “raise its voice” in condemnation of the projectile attacks from Gaza or risk “giving Hamas further incentive to drag us into an unwanted, unnecessary and costly conflict.”
Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid backed the tough Israeli response, saying he too expected “clear condemnation from the international community to this massive attack on a civilian population.”
MK Jamal Zahalka of the Joint List claimed Israel was “initiating a military confrontation” in Gaza and called on the world to “restrain Israeli power madness.”