Minister of Strategic Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon said Monday that the IDF will "continue to operate in Gaza until the other side thinks better of continued fire into Israel."
His comments came amid continued rocket fire from Gaza terror groups on Israel's southern communities. Some 200 rockets have been fired into Israel since Friday.
"At this point we see no need to enter Gaza, but the possibility exists," Yaalon told Yossi Hadar on the "All Talk" network.
Observers note Yaalon has supported a major ground operation to root out the terror infrastructure in Gaza in the past, and that his comments were likely intended to forestall calls for an immediate incursion rather than a planned incursion undertaken at a time of Israel's choosing.
Critics of Israel's airstrikes-for-rockets strategic paradigm say it has only served to perpetuate the poor security situation in Israel's south.
In recent months Israel's top military commanders and security officials have increasingly referred to a large-scale group operation in Gaza as "inevitable."
Ya'alon told Hadar there were contacts underway with Hamas using Cairo as a proxy in hopes of bringing calm. According to Yaalon, Israel has made it clear that if Hamas enforces quiet Israel will stop its airstrikes on Gaza, but if attacks continue Israel won't let up.
Yaalon emphasized that Israel holds Hamas – which rules Gaza – responsible for what happens in Gaza and expects it to enforce order.
However, terror groups in Gaza have made it clear they will "not be the first to blink" and believe they can continue to successfully strike at Israel without serious consequences.
Meanwhile, Hamas for the first time responded to Islamic Jihad's current rocket campaign saying Gaza's public would not indemnify them against an Israeli response.