Israeli officials called Sunday for Israel to undertake a large operation against the Gaza Strip following a weekend salvo of rockets that destroyed a Sderot paint factory.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, speaking to a slew of media outlets Sunday morning, said the Israeli military should consider re-taking full control of the Gaza Strip.
Over a dozen rockets were fired at southern Israel from Gaza over the weekend, with one destroying a paint factory, and injuring four. Israeli jets responded by hitting 12 sites in the strip, including concealed rocket launchers and “terror sites,” the military said.
“We have to decide if we are heading to a scenario of re-taking full control of the strip,” Liberman said in an interview with Army Radio. “We’ve seen that a limited operation just strengthens Hamas, so the alternative is clear. There is no scenario in between.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking at his weekly cabinet meeting, said Jerusalem was “prepared to expand the operation as need be.”
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett visited Sderot Sunday and said Israel would make sure its enemies were forced to hide out in bunkers.
“Over the weekend, the Israeli government proved that the hand of the IDF can reach anywhere,” he said, according to Israeli news site Ynet. “What we are seeing in Sderot — at night missiles struck, and this morning [people] returned to work and continued their lives — this is the way of the State of Israel.”
Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, but has fought two large offensives against the Strip’s Hamas rulers, in 2009 and 2012, to stem rocket fire.
There has been an increase in rocket fire toward Israel this month, with over 60 rockets launched from Gaza, with many followed by Israeli reprisal air raids.
The increased rocket fire comes as the army carries out a wide-ranging operation against the Hamas in the West Bank and searches for three Israeli teens who Israel says were abducted by the Palestinian terrorist group.
Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi called for an “extensive” IDF operation in the Gaza strip.
“To the defense minister, the prime minister, the education minister and also to minister Naftali Bennet, we are saying things clearly,” he said on Army Radio. “The answer to bringing back quiet to the South is an extensive military operation in the Gaza strip.
The manager of the Denber paint factory in Sderot lamented the destruction, telling Army Radio that they had rebuilt the business in Sderot after a fire five years ago destroyed their facility in Ofakim.
“I hope somebody helps us because if not, we will not be able to get back on our feet,” he said.
On Friday, Israel confirmed carrying out the targeted killing of Osama Hassumi, 29, and Mohammad Fatzih, 24, charging that they were involved in a cell responsible for repeated rocket fire on Israel’s southern cities over the past several weeks and were planning terror attacks on Israeli civilians.
The Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.