Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Charles Dharapak)
Israel will not allow Hamas to set the rules of the game, Prime Minister
Binyamin 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
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“Even if we are not interested in an escalation,” he was
quoted as saying, “the response will be determined, harsh and
In addition to holding security consultations, Netanyahu’s
bureau held discussions with various international officials examining ways to
dampen down the violence.
Netanyahu arrived in the country 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.”
He is expected to
address the issue further at Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting.
Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, speaking at a cultural event on Saturday in
Beersheba, said Israel knew how to get Hamas to understand that there was a
heavy price for terrorism, and would do everything to protect its
“Terrorism will not defeat us,” he said.
always known how to unify against threats, and we are all with the citizens of
the South. Unfortunately, Hamas only understands strength.”
on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to condemn only Hamas, and to distinguish
between Israel’s defensive actions and Hamas’s acts of
Meanwhile, European foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton
issued a statement on Friday condemning the mortar shells and rockets fired from
Gaza on Thursday, which she said “once again hit the innocent civilian
population, and must stop immediately.”
Ashton said she was “deeply
concerned by the escalation of violence,” deplored the loss of civilian life in
Gaza and called on Israel to “show restraint.”
“The lives of civilians
must be spared everywhere and in all circumstances,” she said. “Only an
immediate cessation of all violence can bring back the calm necessary to allow
for a lasting truce in the Gaza Strip.”