Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that Israel would respond to a recent wave of terror attacks originating from the Gaza Strip “with great force.”
Earlier, an IDF platoon commander was injured by a roadside bomb during a patrol near the Kissufim crossing on the Gaza border.
The officer received first aid treatment at the site and was then evacuated by helicopter to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba. Initially said to be in moderate condition, the IDF Spokesman’s Office later said his condition was critical. The officer reportedly suffered from injuries to his face and limbs.
During a meeting with the visiting Bulgarian president Tuesday morning, Netanyahu said Gaza-based terror organizations were receiving aid from Iran and pledged to strike back at them.
“Today we engaged in exchanges against terrorist aggression that comes from our southern border in Gaza, but it actually comes from Iran and a whole terror network that is supporting these attacks,” said Netanyahu. “Iran supported Hezbollah’s terror attacks in Bulgaria; Iran is supporting terror attacks now against us in Gaza. We will fight and we will hit them very, very hard — very hard… The way to fight terror is to fight terror, and that we shall do with great force.”
Residents of the villages surrounding Gaza were instructed to remain near bomb shelters.
On Monday the air force killed three Palestinian terrorists and injured four others in airstrikes on the Gaza Strip.
Gaza’s Hamas rulers reported in a text message to reporters that one of the men killed was a member of the group’s military wing. The Popular Resistance Committees said in an email that the second man was from its ranks.
A third man died of his injuries later Monday night. His affiliation was not clear.
Hamas’s military branch promised to retaliate.
The Israeli strikes came in response to rockets fired on southern towns and mortar fire on an IDF patrol.
No injuries or damage were caused by the rockets.
On Monday, Netanyahu had told visiting Middle East Quartet envoy Tony Blair that Israel was ready to use force to restore calm to the Gaza border. “We’re not going to let anyone arm themselves and fire rockets on us and think that they can do this with impunity,” Netanyahu told the former British prime minister. “They’re not going to get away with it. We attacked them before, we attacked them after and we’re going to prevent them from arming themselves. This is our policy. This is a very different policy that I put in. You don’t let them get away with it. And they know that’s what we’re doing.”
Also Monday, an IDF paratroopers brigade commander said the army may soon need to launch another ground incursion into Gaza.
Col. Amir Baram told Channel 2 News: “I think there won’t be a choice… we’ll need to enter Gaza soon.” Baram, the commander of the 202nd Battalion of the Paratroopers Brigade, said the IDF may need to “enter Gaza again” and its fighters may “have to go in, house by house” in order to maintain deterrence in the Strip.