Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak vowed on Monday evening that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) will use every resource to put an end to rocket attacks from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, local daily Ha'aretz reported.
A Palestinian girl demonstrates in front of the Israeli Embassy in Caracas, capital of Venezuela, on Dec. 29, 2008. Palestinians who reside in Venezuela gathered here on Monday during a demonstration against Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip. [Xinhua/Bolivar News Agency]
"If the criminal rocket fire aimed at Israeli civilians does not stop immediately, Israel will use all its resources and all the legal tools it possesses to force the enemy to stop this aggressive, illegal behavior," Barak was quoted as saying.
The defense minister voiced the determination at the end of the third day of Israel's massive air strikes on Gaza.
Barak also reiterated previous calls on the Gazan residents to stay away from areas where militant activity exists, adding that humanitarian aid will continue to be transferred into Gaza even during warfare.
According to Israeli news service Ynet, Israel on Monday allowed 63 truckloads of humanitarian aid, food and medicine into Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing and 1,000 blood units through the Erez crossing.
Earlier in the day, Barak told a Knesset (parliament) session that Israel's ongoing operation in Gaza will be widened if necessary.
"Hamas is responsible for everything that happens in Gaza and which emanates from it," said the defense minister. "This operation will be widened, deepened as we see fit."
"We have stretched our hand in peace many times to the Palestinian people. We have nothing against the people of Gaza," Barak told the parliament. "But this is an all-out war against Hamas and its branches."
Israeli defense establishment spent months preparing for the Gaza operation, he said, adding that the goal of the operation is to force Hamas to stop its hostile actions directed at Israeli civilians.
On Monday morning, an Israeli was killed and at least 10 others were wounded by a Palestinian Grad missile which exploded near a construction site in the coastal town of Ashkelon in southern Israel.
(Xinhua News Agency December 30, 2008)