Netanyahu: Israel Will Expand Gaza Operation as Far as Necessary

Cabinet meets for second time since bodies of kidnapped teens were discovered; PM presents three missions facing the defense establishment.

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Prime Minister Netanyahu at emergency cabinet meeting, June 30, 2014.
Prime Minister Netanyahu at emergency cabinet meeting, June 30, 2014.Credit: AP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet gathered Tuesday night for the second time since the bodies of the kidnapped teenagers were found the day before, and less than two hours after they were buried side-by-side at a Modi'in cemetery.

The cabinet failed to reach a decision in its prior sessions on Israel's official response to the kidnapping, but the Israel Defense Forces struck at least 34 targets in the Gaza Strip overnight, indicating it may decide on a harsh operation.

"Today we buried our sons in a grave of Israel, Naftali, Gilad and Eyal, their blood should be avenged," Netanyahu said at the start of the cabinet meeting. "The whole nation supports their families, and the whole nation is united in our struggle against murderous terrorism."

"We are struggling with determination and resolve," he added. "There are three missions ahead of us: First, to find the murderers and everyone involved in the kidnapping. Everyone who was partner to the abduction and to the murder – blood on his head. We will not rest and we will not relax until we have reached every last one of them. It doesn't matter where they try to hide. We will reach them all, even if it takes us time. This is our first mission. It will be done."

"Second, we will weaken Hamas' infrastructure and manpower in Judea and Samaria. We have already arrested hundreds of Hamas militants, closed dozens of its institutions, destroyed home and our hands are still outstretched," Netanyahu said.

The third mission, he said, is to operate against the Hamas organization in the Gaza Strip. Hamas is continuing to encourage abduction of our citizens, and to fire rockets on our territory, and mortar shells on our territory, including in the last few hours."

"The IDF has operated in recent days against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, and here too – our hands our outstretched. If necessary, we will expand the operation as far as required. Anyone who think he can accomplish something with terror against us will continue to be proven false and will achieve exactly the opposite results."

"Hamas is responsible, Hamas is paying and Hamas will continue to pay," he said. "We will operate with determination, with intelligence and with responsibility. The ultimate consideration in my eyes, and in the eyes of the defense minister and the chief of staff is ensuring the security of the citizens of Israel," he said.

Since the start of Operation Brother's Keeper, 422 Palestinians have been arrested in the West Bank – 335 of them members of Hamas, more than 80 rockets and shells have been fired at Israel, and dozens of targets have been struck in the Gaza Strip, 34 alone overnight Monday.

Police directing traffic away from the crime scene in the Jerusalem Forest, July 2, 2014.
Where Israel searched for teens.
Defense Min. Ya'alon at the funeral.
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Police directing traffic away from the crime scene in the Jerusalem Forest, July 2, 2014.Credit: AP
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Where Israel searched for teens.
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Defense Min. Ya'alon at the funeral.Credit: Moti Milrod
Bodies of three kidnapped Israeli teenagers are found

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