PM Tells IDF to 'Take the Gloves Off' in Gaza Operation
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded to threats from Hamas on Tuesday morning, noting that the terror organization "chose escalation" and that it would "pay a heavy price."
Netanyahu made the statements following his directive to "take the gloves off" in the struggle against Hamas, in a meeting with security and defense officials in the Kirya government building in Tel Aviv.
Earlier Tuesday, Hamas threatened it would not de-escalate the situation.
"There is no place for talking about peace with the Israeli occupation," Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum stated. "If they want to protect their entity from Hamas's missiles, they will have to put an Iron Dome [missile defense system - ed.] on every home in Israel."
"The person who determines the price of conflict with Israel is Hamas, who is doing so with its capabilities and arsenal," he added.
The IDF launched Operation Protective Edge late Monday night, in response to a barrage of rocket fire on Israel; as of Tuesday morning, over 170 rockets have been fired on Israel in a 24 hour period.
Following the launch of the operation, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) struck over 50 terror targets in Gaza, including the homes of several senior Hamas members.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon has declared a state of emergency, and stated earlier Tuesday that the fight against Hamas could take several days.
"We won't tolerate rocket fire on Israeli communities, and we are preparing to expand the operation by all means standing at our disposal so as to continue striking Hamas," Ya'alon declared, urging all residents within the rockets' range to pay close attention to bulletins from the Home Front Command.
Ya'alon's comments follow a chorus of calls for the State of Israel to retake Gaza from Hamas, as well as a prediction from at least one minister that Protective Edge will include a ground assault.