Liberman sends message to Hamas

Defense Minister says Israel not looking for escalation - but will respond harshly to any rocket attacks from Gaza.

Gary Willig,

Avigdor Lieberman
Avigdor Lieberman
Hezki Ezra

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman made it clear tonight that Israel will not tolerate any rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.

Speaking at a ceremony for IDF commanders, Liberman said: "We are not looking for excitement and no one is pushing for an escalation with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, but we will persist in the defense and safety of Israeli citizens and on that point there will be no compromise. All fire from the Gaza Strip to the sovereign territory of the State of Israel will be followed by a strong response."

He said that Hamas rules Gaza with an iron first and can control the various terror groups that have sprouted there. "When it tries to achieve or prevent something, it knows how to do it. So, in regards to any rogue elements, they should try harder."

""I repeat, we do not intend to initiate any military action," Liberman stressed. '' At the same time, we will not tolerate any fire or any provocation."

At the beginning of his remarks Liberman expressed his condolences to the family of Captain Ohad Cohen Nov, who was killed when his plane crashed Wednesday after taking part in the IAF response to rocket fire.

Several rockets have struck near Israel's border with Hamas over the past two days. Yesterrday the Israeli Air Force responded to rocket attack on Sderot by hitting Hamas targets in Gaza, and today a rocket struck near a kibbutz in the Eshkol Regional Council.