Israel won't halt Gaza operation until Hamas begs for truce, say officials
Netanyahu, Barak instruct IDF to complete preparations for ground operation in Gaza.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government is expected to expand Israel Defense Forces operations in the Gaza Strip and is not interested in a cease-fire for now, three senior officials involved in Operation Pillar of Defense decisions said Thursday.
The IDF was ordered to increase air strikes on Gaza and to complete preparations for a ground operation, after Netanyahu consulted with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
A senior official who was briefed after the consultation said, "We're not talking about a cease-fire it's not on the agenda."
Another official who attended the consultation said the Gaza operation will continue and be expanded. "We're in no hurry to receive messages about a cease fire from Egypt or other states," he said.
"We'll continue the pressure and the attacks on Gaza until Hamas begs for a cease-fire," he said. A third official said: "This is only the beginning. The rocket fire from Gaza is continuing, so the IDF will ratchet up its activity. Perhaps a ground operation will be necessary. The operation will not end until all the goals are achieved and Israel restores its deterrence against Hamas."
The officials said the possibility of rockets fired at Tel Aviv and central Israel was taken into consideration when the operation was launched.
They said most of Hamas' long-range missiles, which consisted of some 100 rockets that could reach the Dan region, had been destroyed, leaving only a few long-range missiles in the organizations' hands.
Netanyahu was in his Tel Aviv office when the siren went off in the city on Thursday. He moved with his advisers to a safe room, where he was briefed on the attempts to locate the rocket landing sites.
The prime minister and Lieberman made telephone calls to their colleagues all over the world Thursday. Netanyahu spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Francois Hollande and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Putin urged Netanyahu to show restraint and act to stop the escalation.
"From the beginning of the operation I've been talking to many leaders all over the world," Netanyahu said yesterday in a statement. "They understand no state in the world would agree to having missiles and rockets fired at its people. I made it clear to them Hamas and the terror organizations in the Gaza Strip are committing two war crimes simultaneously. They are hiding behind civilians in Gaza while firing at civilians in Israel."
Lieberman spoke to his colleagues in Germany, Italy, France, Britain, Canada and Bulgaria. He told them Israel would not agree to a cease fire that would be violated again within a week or two, but intends to create a deterrence that would prevent the Palestinians in Gaza from using terror against Israel.