Netanyahu on escalation: 'There is no cease fire in South'

At weekly cabinet meeting in Safed, PM says terrorists will pay high price until attacks stop; Barak warns Hamas: Don't test us.

PM Netanyahu at cabinet meeting 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
PM Netanyahu at cabinet meeting 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday afternoon "there is no cease fire" in the South, in reference to the recent escalation in violence along the Gaza border.
Speaking at the start of a special cabinet meeting being held in Safed, the prime minister warned: "The other side will pay a higher price then they have already paid, until they stop firing."
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Netanyahu's comments came as the IDF struck a Gaza cell attempting to launch rockets at Israel and a day after an Israeli man was killed by shrapnel when a Grad rocket hit Ashdod.Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz told Army Radio Sunday night that continued terror from Gaza will eventually require weighing a fundamental response from the IDF.
"Responding to activity is not enough," Steinitz said, specifying that in the long run, a "root canal" to change the strategic situation might be necessary.
"We will weigh an intensive treatment for the arms problem, which will apparently be toppling Hamas from power and reestablishing control over the southern Strip in the area of the Philadelphi route."
Earlier on Sunday, Netanyahu reiterated the Israeli government's policy of strict retaliation against those that harm Israelis, warning both Islamic Jihad and Hamas not to test Israel. 
Speaking in Safed at the opening of the Bar-Ilan University Faculty of Medicine in the Galilee, Netanyahu went on to stress the importance of remembering that "Hamas is the ruling power in Gaza, and it is [the organization's] responsibility to preserving the quiet and to prevent [rocket] fire" from the Strip," even if those launching the rockets are from Islamic Jihad.
"It's not worthwhile for anybody to test our resolve" to invoke the government's defense principles. "We will prevent every attempt to shoot at Israel and we will hurt everyone who nevertheless succeeds" at launching rockets.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak also warned Islamic Jihad and Hamas leaders "not to test our abilities," following a meeting with security and intelligence chiefs on Sunday.
During the meeting, Barak examined plans for continued IDF operations in Gaza to stop the rocket attacks on Israel. The defense minister added, "We will do everything to protect the citizens of Israel."
Also speaking at the medical school in Safed, President Shimon Peres said "the government and the IDF will do everything necessary in order to secure residents of the South and to put an end to this intolerable situation."
Any country would respond as Israel does to indiscriminate rocket fire on its citizens, he added.
In a message to "our Arab neighbors," the president said, "neither we nor you want war, but [the] rockets from Gaza are [a borderline] declaration of war. Reckless groups cannot be allowed to endanger our peace."
"While the majority of Arabs are trying to end oppression and poverty," Peres said, "Hamas is bringing oppression and poverty to the Gaza Strip."