[Updated at 12:40 p.m.] Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel "neither chose nor initiated this escalation,Â but if it continues we are prepared for much more extensive and deeper action. In any case, we will continue with preventative operations. Whoever intends to attack Israeli citizens needs to know that he will bear the consequences."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak toured areas hit by rockets in southern Israel and said the military "is working efficiently against all the terror elements.Â Since the beginning of the month, 15 active terrorists have been killed in the act, and more have been injured." Â He wished a speedy recovery to those injured by rockets fired from Gaza. Â "Hamas will receive its punishment for what has happened here," he vowed, promising that Israel will "work with patience and level-headedness."
"There is no way to eliminate the hatred or hostility entrenched in Hamas. But the IDF will act on the border, from the air, and in any other necessary way in order to strike down those who attempt to cause us harm," he said.
[Updated at 9:02 a.m. ET] As dozens of Palestinian rockets rained down on southern Israel, the country's air force carried out new raids on positions in Gaza on Wednesday. Two days of air strikes have so far killed four Palestinians.