Visiting an Israeli Navy base in Ashdod, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Monday that Israel is prepared to respond forcefully if Hamas resumes rocket fire on southern Israel after midnight, should the ceasefire talks fail and the truce be breached.
“We are preparing for any outcome. The Israeli team was instructed to insist firmly on Israel’s security needs, and the Israel Defense Forces is gearing up for a very forceful response if the fire resumes,” he said.
“In the stormy Middle East, one needs a combination of strength and patience. The IDF has considerable strength and the Eternal People has proven that it does not fear a long road. It could yet take time and one must be patient and determined. The combination of persistence and strength will assist us in achieving the goal of this operation — quiet and security for all Israelis.”
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon added: “Operation Protective Edge is not over. As we promised, we will not stop until we bring quiet and security. We are prepared for the results of the discussions in Cairo, whether it brings quiet or if someone tries to challenge us with escalation. The IDF is prepared and ready to respond strongly to any development. Hamas will not drag us into a war of attrition and, if it tries, it will be struck very hard.”
Indications Monday night pointed to an extension of the ceasefire, though an hour before the end of truce, no formal announcement had been made.