Israel will take “whatever action is necessary” to defend its citizens from Palestinian rocket attacks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday as the military pressed a massive operation in Gaza.
Netanyahu’s remarks at a televised press conference in Tel Aviv came after Israel carried out 24 hours of air strikes on Gaza, killing 15 Palestinians, at least seven of them Hamas militants.
Over the same period, militants fired more than 200 rockets at Israel, killing three people and injuring 16, police and medics said.
Israel will “continue to take whatever action is necessary to defend our people,” the prime minister said, adding that the army was prepared to “significantly expand the action” in Gaza.
The Israeli air force had “caused significant damage to the Fajr rockets aimed at Tel Aviv, the (surrounding) Dan region and north of that,” he added, referring to Iranian-built missiles which have a range of up to 75 kilometres (46 miles).
Earlier on Thursday, Defence Minister Ehud Barak, on a visit to an Iron Dome anti-missile battery near Beersheva, said the operation had “nearly completely paralysed” Hamas’s arsenal of Fajr 5 rockets.
Hamas militants said on Thursday they had fired several Fajr 5 rockets at Tel Aviv, but the Israeli military dismissed the claim and there were no reports of any attacks in the area.
Gaza’s Hamas rulers said they would not consider a truce with Israel for now, as Israeli planes pounded Gaza and militants fired hundreds of rockets into the Jewish state.
“We will not be exposed to further tricks by the occupation. We consider talk of a truce at this time an attempt to provide more cover for the continuation of the escalation on Gaza,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said at a press conference.