Netanyahu: Israel Will Not Suffer the Bombardment of Its Citizens

Referring to the IDF reprisal of the first long-range missile attack against the southern city of Be'er Sheva since the Gaza war, Prime Minister warns Hamas-ruled Gaza against testing Israel's 'determination.'

Israel will not tolerate the bombardment of its citizens, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday, following the Israel Defense Forces' Gaza strike, a  retaliation for a missile attack on the southern city of Be'er Sheva.

Earlier Thursday, the IDF confirmed Palestinian reports that the Israel Air Force bombed targets in eastern Gaza City, wounding three Islamic Jihad militants.

Netanyahu - Emil Salman - Feb. 16, 2011
Emil Salman

The strike came after two Grad rockets were fired at Be'er Sheva on Wednesday evening, with so far only one missile known to have landed in the city. The missile hit a building in a residential area, causing damage, in an attack which marked the first time Be'er Sheva was hit since the Gaza war in 2009.

Referring to the IDF reprisal in a special joint cabinet meeting with the Polish government later Thursday, Netanyahu issued a warning against the Hamas-ruled Strip, saying that Israel would not "tolerate the bombardment of our citizens," and would "act accordingly."

"I wouldn't suggest that anyone test our resolve," the premier added.

"Netanyahu also referred to the Haaretz report of an up-and-coming position paper on continued Israel-Syria peace talks prepared by Syrian's Bashar Assad and U.S. Senator John Kerry, saying the report did not say anything he didn't already know.

"Kerry has been trying to mediate talks for many months, like other mediators from Europe and South America," the premier said, adding that "if Syria was serious about peace it would find a loyal partner in us."

During Operation Cast Lead in 2009, several rockets were fired at Be'er Sheva and two people were seriously wounded, including a seven-year-old boy.

Meron Reuben, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, sent a letter to the President of the Security Council, Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti on Wednesday, imploring the UN to condemn the attack.

Reuben said in the letter that the attacks represent a clear escalation of terrorist activity emanating from the Gaza Strip. He further noted that such attacks constitute a clear violation of international law, and must be addressed with the utmost seriousness.

Reuben's letter was prompted by a statement issued by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman who called on the UN to condemn the attacks and "not be apathetic to such a blatant act of terror."

A spokesperson for the Be'er Sheva municipality announced that school would not be canceled in light of the attack, encouraging residents to be on the alert and listen to instructions when necessary.