JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel will “expand and intensify” its military operation against Hamas in the wake of a failed cease-fire attempt, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
In an address to the nation Tuesday night, which came less than an hour after the announcement of the first Israeli death in the latest Gaza conflict, a civilian, Netanyahu said, “If there is to be no cease-fire, our answer is fire.”
“It would have been preferable to have solved this diplomatically, and this is what we tried to do when we accepted the Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire, but Hamas leaves us no choice but to expand and intensify the campaign against it,” he said.
Netanyahu said the campaign will continue until the military has eliminated the threats to Israel.
Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said in the same address that the country is “determined to continue the operation” in Gaza and “will not compromise the security of the state.”
The person killed was a 37-year-old civilian who brought food and treats to Israeli soldiers operating near the Erez border crossing with Gaza. He was hit with a mortar fired from Gaza.
Nearly 200 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed since the start of the operation.
Shortly after Netanyahu made his televised remarks, he fired Likud Party member Danny Danon from his position as deputy defense minister, reportedly for remarks he made criticizing the government’s handling of the Gaza operation.
“Once again Hamas is setting the tone for this operation. We must retake the initiative and correct the mistake made in this morning’s Cabinet meeting,” Danon had said, referring to the Security Cabinet’s decision to approve an Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire. “Now is the time to let the IDF win this battle.”
Also Tuesday, 25 mobile bomb shelters donated by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews were placed in southern Israeli communities hard hit by rockets from Gaza, including Ashdod, Ashkelon and Lachish.
The group raised more than $2 million in the early days of Operation Protective Edge, now in its eighth day. Part of the funding was used to open an emergency support center for the elderly in areas affected by the rockets, providing assistance including delivering food and medicines, as well as staying in contact with them.