"We will do what needs to be done," IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz said while visiting the Gaza vicinity Thursday after an anti-tank missile fired from Gaza hit a civillian bus, critically injuring a sixteen year old boy.
"We are still dealing with this incident… It is still early to conclude it," Gantz said. When asked whether Israel was headed for a second Operation Cast Lead, he advised civilians "not to be hysterical."
Shortly after Ganz spoke the IDF launched a series of nine additional airstrikes on targets in Gaza, killing three and injuring an undisclosed number of others.
The attack on the bus was followed by a barrage of rocket and mortar fire. MDA personnel who responded to the scene said they had to stabilize the wounded youth while sustaining mortar fire.
Ganz urged citizens to be calm, saying he was "sure we will take control of matters."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the anti-tank missile fire at the bus, which had been conveying students home from school, was very serious "because it hit deep within Israel's territory from within the Strip".
"This is something we cannot accept. The actions being taken now are a reaction to this incident and they will continue as long as necessary in order to clarify that these things cannot go on," he said.
The United States condemned the attack and ensuing rocket fire, saying that there was "no justification for the targeting of innocent civilians".
"Those responsible for these terrorist attacks should be held accountable," State Department officials said in a statement, adding, "We are deeply concerned about reports that indicate the use of an advanced anti-tank weapon in an attack against civilians, and reiterate that all countries have obligations under relevant UN Security Council resolutions to prevent illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition."
Meanwhile, the Iron Dome defense system saw its first operational success when it intercepted its first rocket above the skies of Ashkelon.