Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon addressed further escalation in the Negev on Sunday, after rockets continued to pelt southern communities and after the emotional funeral of four year-old Daniel Tragerman, hy"d, who was killed by a mortar shell Friday.
Ya'alon began by expressing his condolences to Daniel's family.
"At the outset I would like to send condolences to the Tragerman family in Nahal Oz - to the parents, Gila and Doron, brothers Yuval and Uri and the rest of the family," Ya'alon began. "This loss is hard to bear, and the pictures of Daniel dancing and playing like any child his age is just heartbreaking."
Ya'alon then turned to the current round of rocket fire, which he said constituted a "war of attrition."
"If Hamas's leaders think they will wear us out, or if they believe we are working according to a schedule, they are wrong," he warned. "We're not in any hurry. We have patience."
In the meantime, the self-defense operation will continue, he said. Operation Protective Edge reached its forty-eighth day Sunday.
"Operation Protective Edge will stop only when there is complete quiet in the south, and when rockets and mortars are no longer fired at Israel," he affirmed. "Until then, we will continue pounding Hamas and its infrastructure, at this stage, from the air. We don't plan to stop there, and we have a range of options to continue harming Hamas in other ways."
"We take advantage of every intelligence and operational opportunity to harm terrorists and their commanders, even when they are in hide-outs and surround themselves with women and children," he added. "We know how to get to them."
Ya'alon concluded by thanking the IDF and security forces for their work thus far.
"Even on this occasion, I would like to commend the IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, and IDF commanders and soldiers," he said. "The work they do is excellent."
"They are engaged in only one thing, and that is returning peace and security to Israel," he added. "During these times we need to embrace the soldiers and commanders - junior and senior - who risk their lives for us all."