Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday called for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to condemn the indiscriminate rocket firing on Israeli civilians, just before Abbas was to meet visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron in Bethlehem.
Netanyahu, who was visiting the pharmaceutical giant Teva's headquarters in Jerusalem with his British counterpart, said that at a time when Teva's plant in Ashdod was manufacturing medicine that is transferred to the Gaza Strip, "they are firing rockets from there on innocent Israelis."
"You are going to visit President Abbas shortly," Netanyahu said to Cameron. "He has not condemned the firing of rockets on our citizens. How can you not condemn the firing of rockets on innocent civilians. He did, however, condemn Israel for responding and shooting three terrorists who fired mortars at us. That he did condemn."
Netanyahu said that Israel's policy in the South was clear: "We thwart and harm anyone who tries to harm us, and respond with great force to every attack." The prime minister said this policy has led to the longest period of relative quiet in the south in a number of years.
Netanyahu said the terrorists in Gaza should understand they are dealing with a very determined government, and a very strong IDF.
Meanwhile, President Shimon Peres reiterated on Thursday Israel's warning that the IDF would respond with force to fire from the Gaza Strip.
Israel will not allow its citizens to be fired at "under any circumstances," Peres said following a renewal of projectile fire
by Palestinian terrorists on Thursday morning following a heavy attack on Wednesday night in which more than 40 rockets were fired at southern Israel.
The president held Hamas responsible for the attack on Wednesday, which Islamic Jihad took responsibility for. "Hamas leadership says it's responsible for the Gaza Strip, therefore it is also responsible for everything that happens in Gaza," he charged.
"Hamas should decide how it wants to live - for every shot they'll receive a shot, for every ceasefire they will receive a ceasefire," the president said.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon held a security assessment meeting with military chiefs on Thursday. At its conclusion, he said, "The IDF's response to the rocket fire
yesterday on southern Israel was the strongest since Operation Pillar of Defense, and the price paid by terror organizations in the Strip was heavy."
He added that Israel viewed Hamas and Islamic Jihad as being responsible for rocket attacks, and warned, "We have a range of options that we will not hesitate to use to continue to respond with power. Hamas is responsible for Gaza, and if it does not know how to prevent rocket fire from its territory at Israel, we will act against it and its wider interests. Anyone who tries to fire a rocket at Israel, or who is involved in rocket fire bears the responsibility, and we won't hesitate to strike them at any time."
Ya'alon vowed to "continue to act responsibly, and with good judgment, to ensure the security of Israeli citizens and to allow routine life to continue."