Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned on Thursday that terrorists in the Gaza Strip would pay a "heavy price" if they continued to target Israel, as the IDF finalized preparations for a possible large-scale assault on the coastal territory. A day earlier, terrorists pummeled southern Israel with more than 80 rockets and mortars, causing no injuries but generating widespread panic. Cabinet ministers huddled for hours discussing Israel's response to the barrage, and defense officials later told The Associated Press that ministers had approved a broad invasion of Gaza that would be launched after winter rains subsided. Barak insisted that "we will not accept this situation." "Whoever harms the citizens and soldiers of Israel will pay a heavy price," he warned.