A day after four soldiers were killed in Gaza operations, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Israel had paid a price for a bitter, unavoidable battle.
"We are now in the eleventh day of Operation Cast Lead. Last night, we paid a heavy price," Barak said on a tour of the Osem factory in Sderot. "I send my condolence to the bereaved families and wish the casualties a speedy recovery."
"It is a bitter battle, but an unavoidable one," he continued. "No peace-loving country can allow a terrorist organization to ruin daily life and embitter the lives of civilians."
The defense minister said Israel had embarked on the operation with the aim of restoring quiet to the South and curbing weapons smuggling and that "we intend to fulfill those goals."
Barak added that the IDF had split Gaza and was surrounding Gaza City.