Saturday, April 9, 2011

Hamas crossing Red line; Netanyahu: Israel's "response will be determined, harsh and ongoing

The latest round of fighting began Thursday, after Hamas fired an anti-tank missile at a school bus traveling in southern Israel. A 16-year-old boy sustained serious wounds in the attack and the bus driver was lightly hurt.

Since Thursday, terror groups in Gaza fired more than 70 rockets, mortar shells and missiles at southern Israel communities. Several rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-rocket system.

Netanyahu arrived in Israel before Shabbat from a two-day trip to Germany and the Czech Republic. Earlier on Friday, following his meeting with Czech President Vaclav Klaus in Prague, the prime minister said: “The attack on a school bus crossed the line. Whoever tries to hurt and murder children will be held accountable.”

Defense officials noted that Hamas sustained a harsh blow in the past 48 hours, with more than 20 terrorists killed in the Gaza Strip and dozens wounded in IDF strikes. Overall, some 35 Hamas men have been killed in the past 10 days.

Israel will not allow Hamas to set the rules of the game, Prime Minister Netanyahu said on Saturday night during consultations regarding the escalating violence in the South.

Netanyahu said that raising the level of violence such that a tank missile is fired on a school bus, and thinking that this is just part of the ongoing status quo, was not acceptable and would not be tolerated.

“Even if we are not interested in an escalation,” he was quoted as saying, “the response will be determined, harsh and ongoing.”

In addition to holding security consultations, Netanyahu’s bureau held discussions with various international officials examining ways to dampen down the violence.