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Netanyahu Gives Orders to Widen Gaza Operation

'Hamas purposely hides behind civilians, and bears responsibility when they are hit by mistake,' says PM.
By Shlomo Pitrikovsky, Gil Ronen and Ari Soffer
First Publish: 7/8/2014, 8:48 PM

IDF soldiers in an armored personnel carrier near the Gaza border (7 July 2013)
IDF soldiers in an armored personnel carrier near the Gaza border (7 July 2013)
Reuters

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed the citizens of Israel Tuesday evening, as the first day of Operation Protective Edge drew to a close.

"The state of Israel is in the midst of a campaign to bring back peace and security to our citizens,” he said. “We will not stand for rocket fire on our cities and communities; therefore I gave instructions to widen in a meaningful way the IDF operation against the Hamas terrorists and against the terrorists of the other terror organizations in Gaza.

"I did so only after all of the attempts that were made to restore quiet went unheeded, and Hamas opted for escalation. We do not go gleefully into battle, but the security of our citizens and children comes before everything else. We will do all that is necessary so that the calm that we have experienced here in recent years continues."

The prime minister also addressed the issue of civilian casualties, following an incident in which several Palestinians were killed while being used as human shields by terrorists.

"The IDF aims its actions against Hamas terrorists and not against innocent civilians,” Netanyahu stressed. “But Hamas purposely hides behind Palestinian civilians, and therefor bears responsibility when they are inadvertently hit.”

Since midnight last night alone, terrorists from Gaza have fired more than 130 rockets at Israeli civilians in southern communities, prompting Israel to launch a series of 150 airstrikes as part of Operation Protective Edge.

Gaza medical sources say 15 people - most of them Hamas terrorists - have been killed in targeted IAF strikes.

In addition, four Hamas terrorists were eliminated by IDF forces Tuesday evening after they infiltrated the border with Gaza via the sea. One IDF soldier was lightly wounded in that clash.

Earlier Tuesday, the Israeli Security Cabinet authorized the calling up of 40,000 reserve soldiers, in anticipation of a possible ground assault on the Gaza Strip.