Netanyahu: We won’t let Hamas set the rules

During late-night consultations regarding escalating violence in south, PM said Israel's "response will be determined, harsh and ongoing."

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Charles Dharapak)
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 tolerated.
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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 ongoing.”
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.
Deputy 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 citizens.
“Terrorism will not defeat us,” he said.
“Israel has always known how to unify against threats, and we are all with the citizens of the South. Unfortunately, Hamas only understands strength.”
Ayalon called on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to condemn only Hamas, and to distinguish between Israel’s defensive actions and Hamas’s acts of terrorism.
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.”