Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday said that Israel was still in a state of alert amid a terror threat emanating from Sinai, despite the targeted killing Friday of the man believed to be planning the attack, Popular Resistance Committee leader Zuhair Qaisi.

Speaking at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said that "on Friday a terror mastermind, responsible for organizing multiple terror attacks was assassinated. He was in the middle of plotting an additional act of terror."

The Israel Air Force Friday bombed a car in Gaza killing Qaisi and another top terrorist in the organization. The IDF said it decided to bomb Qaisi’s car due to intelligence that he was plotting a large terrorist attack along the border with Egypt, similar to the one the PRC carried out last August that killed eight Israelis.

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The prime minister said Sunday that "we are still on alert for a terror attack from there, and I have ordered the closure of the road along the Egyptian border." The IDF decided on Friday to close Route 12 – which runs along the border with Egypt – due to fears that the planned attack might still take place.

Netanyahu said that the IDF's operation to kill Qaisi had brought about an escalation of hostilities in the South in which the IDF was "striking with great force" and "exacting a high price" from terrorist organizations in Gaza.

The prime minister praised the effectiveness of the Iron Dome rocket-defense system, saying it had proven itself and he would work to deploy it more widely in the coming months.

'Iron Dome must be recognized as national emergency project'

Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday echoed Netanyahu's sentiments, calling for Iron Dome to be recognized as a national emergency project.

Barak said that classifying the system as such would allow him to request the acceleration of plans to operate and deploy additional Iron Dome batteries and complete the development and deployment of the Magic Wand, an additional system which would provide an added layer of defense against projectiles.

"We must ensure that the system will be deployed in the shortest time period possible in order to provide all of the state's citizens worthy protection against the threat of rockets and missiles, in the North as well as in the South," Barak stated.

Barak added: "The great success of the Iron Dome in intercepting rockets fired at Israeli cities in the last two days contributes to the security of Israel's citizens and to the freedom of the leadership to act to create deterrence."

Liberman: Hamas to blame for Gaza rocket fire

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman on Sunday placed the blame for continued rocket fire from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel on Hamas, warning that Israel would respond to attacks leveled against its citizens.

Speaking to Army Radio, Liberman said of the more than 100 rockets fired into Israel since Friday, "There is no doubt that as far as we are concerned Hamas is the responsible party."

"I suggest that the leaders of terror organizations give the proper consideration to their actions and understand that despite our desire for restraint, we will respond," Liberman warned.

Palestinian officials said Sunday that 17 people had been killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza since hostilities began on Friday. They claimed that one of those killed was a 12-year-old civilian, while the remaining 16 were armed terrorists.

A Palestinian official speaking on condition of anonymity said Egypt had begun mediating a ceasefire on Sunday. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry had no comment.

Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon responded Sunday: "In the latest rounds of violence the Egyptians have naturally served as mediators. We are not negotiating with Hamas ... but deliver a clear message, if you don't shoot, we don't shoot, if you do shoot, you will pay a price."

Reuters contributed to this report.

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