The Gaza Strip must be attacked in retaliation to the recent Qassam rocket attacks aimed at the southern town of Ashkelon and neighboring bases, Transportation Minister Meir Sheetrit said Thursday.
"If Ashkelon doesn't sleep, Gaza will sleep less," he said during a Ynet forum, calling for a continued and firm IDF response.
"Gaza must be bombed as a response to the Qassam fire. This is the only way we can prevent fire over Ashkelon and the nearby bases," he added.
Sheetrit said he believed the international community would not blame Israel for this retaliation.
"There is no justification for the continued fire on us. We must respond with severity. We must force the concentrated Palestinian population that resides near the border to leave their homes and move out. If we can't sleep in peace, they won't be able to sleep peacefully either," he said.
"With all due respect, I shouldn't have to ask the Americans, and I don't plan to ask them. I believe that in regards to this issue it is the State's duty to ensure the security of its citizens. If after we left (Gaza) the Palestinians still don't understand that the fire has to stop, they have a big problem. The Americans cannot complain to us," he added.
Sheetrit is not concerned over American pressure and said he believes the U.S. would not interfere in this issue.
"The Americans always say it is Israel's right to protect its citizens. It is important for citizens to feel that the government protects them, without harming the innocent," he said.
Peres: Qassam fire intolerable
Knesset Member Shimon Peres demanded Thursday that the Palestinian Authority take strong action against Qassam launchers.
"Qassam fire is intolerable. Alongside government efforts, the Palestinian Authority must fulfill its role," Peres said, after yet another Qassam landed in an IDF base south of Ashkelon, injuring 5 troops.
Israel Our Home Chairman Avigdor Lieberman called for an emergency Knesset deliberation following the decline in the security situation in the Gaza Strip region.
Lieberman also called for all Likud minister to immediately quit the government.
Shas party Chairman Eli Yishai also responded to Thursday's rocket attack.
"It's a pity Palestinian terror is fastened around Israel. We can see that the terrorists are improving, just as Rabbi Ovadia Yosef stated one-and-a-half years ago," he said.
"Palestinian terror cells are bursting out and continuing to strike. We will not ignore the Palestinians repeated attempts to create terror in the heart of Israel," he added.
Ilan Marciano contributed to the report