TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday sent a warning message to Hamas that “whoever hurts Israel” will be targeted swiftly and harshly and the Jewish state will respond to any and all provocations, including the launching of incendiary kites and balloons into Israeli territory.
“Over the Sabbath we hit Hamas in a significant way and hard. Our policy is clear: Whoever hurts us, we will hit them with great strength. This is what we did yesterday,” Netanyahu said at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting.
“The IDF dealt Hamas the harshest blow since Operation Protective Edge. I hope that they got the message; if not, they will get it later,” he added.
The Israeli premier also quashed any rumors that Israel would not respond to the so-called terror kites that have been flown over the border in recent months, sparking thousands of fires.
“I heard it being said that Israel has agreed to a ceasefire that would allow the continuation of terrorism by incendiary kites and balloons; this is incorrect. We are not prepared to accept any attacks against us and we will respond appropriately,” Netanyahu said.
His remarks came after a day of intense fighting Saturday that saw Hamas terrorists in Gaza launch some 200 missiles into Israel, prompting widespread Israeli airstrikes on terror targets, including two cross-border tunnels, in the coastal enclave.
Four Israelis were wounded by a rocket that landed on a home in Sderot.
“We were sitting in the living room and all of a sudden the aquarium exploded and there was smoke everywhere and glasses flew everywhere and we were filled with blood,” Aharon Buchris said from his hospital bed where he awaited surgery. His wife and two teenage daughters were also wounded.
According to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, two Palestinian teenagers were killed in an airstrike on a building that was directly on top of a Hamas terror tunnel.
An Egyptian-brokered ceasefire came into effect Saturday night. Several mortars were fired by Hamas after the ceasefire announcement. Hamas also made it clear that the ceasefire did not include cessation of the incendiary devices.
Also at the cabinet meeting, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman echoed Netanyahu’s warning, saying that Hamas would “pay a heavy price” if it continued its provocations.
“We have been through a stormy weekend. With regards to the rest of the week, it is important to emphasize that we have no intention of tolerating this — not rockets, not kites, not drones — nothing,” Liberman said.