Israel wants to find a long-term, diplomatic solution to resolve the Gaza crisis, but will not hesitate to escalate its military campaign against Palestinian militants if needed, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday.

“If a long-term solution can be put in place through diplomatic means then Israel would be a willing partner to such a solution,” Netanyahu said after talks with the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

“But if stronger military action proves necessary to stop the constant barrage of rockets, Israel will not hesitate to do what is necessary to defend our people,” he added.

Sirens sounded for the second time since the start of Operation Pillar of Defense in Jerusalem Tuesday, hours after the government said it would hold off on a ground operation for 24 hours to give diplomacy a chance. Among the big names visiting the region to try to push through talks are US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Tuesday saw the south pummeled with over 100 rockets, including several direct hits on homes and cars, and a soldier moderately injured. In Gaza, Israel continued to strike targets.


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