JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to take “strong action” against the Gaza Strip after a rocket from Gaza slammed into an Israeli home in Beersheba before dawn on Wednesday. Beersheva is Israel’s fourth largest city.
Netanyahu met with Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and other senior security officials to assess the situation.
"Israel views with utmost gravity the attacks against it on the fence, on the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip, on Be'er Sheva – everywhere. I said, at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting, that if these attacks do not stop – we will stop them,” Netanyahu said after the meeting.
“I want to tell you today as well – Israel will take very strong action,” he said.
Netanyahu met with local councils heads from the area of Gaza and toured the area.
Lieberman earlier called for war on Gaza to restore calm as Israel faces an escalation in violence along its southern border and beyond.
Terrorists in the Gaza Strip launched a rocket before dawn that crashed into a home in the southern Israeli city of Beersheva – nearly 30 miles from Gaza.
A mother and her three children were safe because they had gone to the bomb shelter when the warning sirens sounded.
Usually, Israeli civilians are encouraged to return to their routine as quickly as possible, but on Wednesday, school was canceled in Beersheva and areas near the Gaza Strip.
In response to the rocket attack, the Israel Defense Forces said Israeli planes struck more than 20 Hamas terror targets, including a tunnel that infiltrated Israel and a factory used to manufacture components to build tunnels.
The IDF also released a video showing a terror squad setting up a launching pad, loading rockets and the IDF strike on the squad.
“Tonight, a large portion of southern Israel's population was put under immediate danger as Gazan terrorists fired a rocket at Beer Sheva (Beersheva),” IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said in a statement.
“Hamas terrorists have no regard for human life and their actions violate the most basic human values. We are determined to prevent and pursue the actions of terrorist organizations,” he said.
The attack on Beersheva came as Lieberman said he is pressing for upgraded military action to quiet the situation in Gaza.
“My position is very clear: We must deal a heavy blow against Hamas. This is the only way to return the situation to its previous state, and to reduce the level of violence to nearly zero,” he said on a tour around the Gaza border on Tuesday.
Lieberman said Hamas ramped up violence along the border following a humanitarian move by Israel to deliver Qatari-funded fuel for Gaza’s only power plant.
But Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh responded by saying that “diesel and salaries wouldn’t stop the violence.” Hamas wants a full lifting of the blockade into Gaza.
Lieberman said that would only allow Iran to fully arm Hamas.
The rocket attack was the latest in escalating violence, which has seen Palestinian rioting along the Gaza border for nearly seven months.
Keren Kayemet L’Israel – the Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) also said attacks from arson balloons and kites from Gaza since April have destroyed more than half of the forested areas surrounding the border with Gaza.
Earlier, Conricus told CBN News that Hamas is trying to involve the international community by getting Israel to kill Palestinians.
“Hamas isn’t trying to achieve any truce with Israel. Hamas is trying to achieve political aims by using violence. This is what terrorist organizations do,” Conricus said.
“What they’re doing is sending Palestinian civilians forward, causing them to endanger themselves by attacking Israel and then hoping that these civilian casualties will generate or garner international interest in what’s happening and perhaps alleviate the situation in Gaza,” he added.