During a visit to the Gaza periphery on Tuesday, President Reuven Rivlin said Israel is not seeking a wider conflict with Hamas.
“Just as the other side wants to live in peace, so do we. But in the same breath, we are ready for any animosity toward us,” Rivlin said while meeting with troops near the border.
The visit took place two days after Israel carried out an unusually heavy bombardment of Hamas sites in the Strip following Sunday’s rocket attack from Gaza on the southern city of Sderot.
Officials on both sides have since urged calm and signaled they did not seek a violent flare-up.
While noting that Israel’s south was “thriving” two years after the last armed conflict with Hamas in Gaza, the president said the country had a “moral and civil obligation” to achieve the return of the bodies of Lt. Hadar Goldin and Staff Sergeant Oron Shaul, who were killed during the conflict and whose bodies are being held by Hamas.
Rivlin visited the area earlier in the day but journalists were asked for security reasons to keep his visit under wraps until he left, as is often done with high-level visits to the restive region.