PM: Israel will act ‘vigorously, responsibly and prudently’

By
March 23, 2011 21:21

Netanyahu says elements trying to disturb quiet with terror will learn that the gov't, the IDF and the Israeli public have an iron will to protect the state.

Netanyahu

Netanyahu 311 reuters. (photo credit:Reuters)

Israel will act “vigorously, responsibly and prudently” to preserve the “quiet and security” that has existed here over the last two years, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Wednesday night, at the end of a day that saw the return of bombings to Jerusalem and the firing of Grad missiles on Beersheba.

Netanyahu’s comments came as he was boarding a plane for a 24-hour visit to Russia. Before leaving he held security consultations at the airport with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Home Front Minister Matan Vilna’i, Chief of General Staff Lt.- Gen. Benny Gantz, and Israel Security Agency head Yuval Diskin to draw up what is widely expected to be a considerable military response.



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Netanyahu said his government, after coming to power two years ago, established a security policy whereby “systematic and assertive preventive measures against terrorism” were coupled with “vigorous responses” to all attempts to harm Israeli citizens.


The result of this policy, he said, has been two years of “quiet and security.”

“Recently there are elements who want to disturb that quiet,” he said. “They are trying to test our resolve and the fortitude of our people.

They will learn that the government, the IDF and the Israeli public have an iron will to protect the state and its citizens.”

Netanyahu delayed his departure by some three hours to hold the security consultations.

Similar talks were held earlier in the day, before the 3 p.m. Jerusalem attack, to discuss the rocket attacks on Beersheba and the overall deterioration of the security situation in the South.

Following those attacks, Netanyahu said the “IDF is acting and will act against the terror organizations in Gaza. We will firmly and decisively defend our citizens. No country would be prepared to absorb the continuous firing of rockets on its cities and citizens, and of course Israel is not willing to do so.”

Netanyahu said that stopping the attacks may “come to exchanging blows” and that “it may continue for some time.”

But, he said, “we are very determined to take away the terrorist organizations’ ability to harm our citizens.”

In addition to holding security consultations, Netanyahu also spoke during the day with a number of his ministers, some of whom were calling for a stronger reaction than has been seen in the recent past, when mortar fire on the south was generally met by the IDF’s destruction of the launchers or a smuggling tunnel into Gaza.

Before the Jerusalem attack, but after the Grad bombardment of Beersheba, Vice Premier and Regional Development Minister Silvan Shalom said that if the situation continued, there would be no choice but to launch another large-scale operation on Gaza that would bring down the Hamas government which he said has made life in the South “insufferable.”

“This is an action that is needed for the protection of our citizens,” he said.

Shalom said that during the “last round” in Gaza, Israel restrained itself for too long, something that “led to the abandonment of the citizens.

We will not go back to a situation like that.”

Shalom called for a swift operation with a clear “price tag.”

Wednesday’s attack in Jerusalem was met with swift statements of condemnation from key capitals around the world.

President Shimon Peres told a gathering of Ben Shemen Youth Village Alumni: “I have confidence in the strength of the IDF and the security forces to cut the hand of terror that tries to harm our citizens and to put an end to this criminal activity. I am proud of the resilience of our citizens who demonstrate determination and courage.”

Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger demanded that religious leaders in the Palestinian Authority denounce the attack, until which no interfaith dialogue would take place.

“Our neighbors have once again shown that we have no real partner,” he said. “So long as the inciting religious leaders won’t condemn the terrorists, the Chief Rabbinate will suspend its interfaith dialogue with them. We expect the religious leadership to firmly denounce the terror attack in the heart of Jerusalem.”

Jonah Mandel contributed to this report.

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