Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke on Wednesday with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and US Secretary of State John Kerry, and released the following statement to the international community:
"Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza are firing rockets on cities throughout the State of Israel – on Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Beer Sheba, Sderot and other cities in Israel. No country on earth would remain passive in the face of hundreds of rockets fired on its cities and Israel is no exception.
“Today we expanded our operations against Hamas and the other terrorist groups in Gaza.
“We will continue to protect our civilians against Hamas attacks on them. Hamas, by contrast, is deliberately putting Palestinian civilians into harm's way. It embeds its terrorists in hospitals, schools, mosques and apartment buildings throughout the Gaza Strip. Hamas is thus committing a double war crime: It targets Israeli civilians, while hiding behind Palestinian civilians.
“This operation could take time. We are resolved to defend our families and our homes.
“Today I spoke with several world leaders. I appreciated their expressions of strong support for our right and our duty to defend ourselves, and this is what we will continue to do.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that she telephoned Netanyahu and “condemned without reservation rocket fire on Israel."
"There is no justification" for such attacks, Merkel told Netanyahu, according to her spokeswoman.
Francois Hollande "expressed France's solidarity (with Israel) in the face of rocket fire from Gaza" and told Netanyahu "that France strongly condemns these aggressions," said a statement from the French presidency.
Hollande also said that it was up to Israel "to take all measures to protect its population in the face of threats" but reminded the Israeli premier "of the need to prevent an escalation of violence."