Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday opened a security cabinet meeting that was expected to weigh a response to rocket fire from Lebanon earlier, saying: "We will cripple our enemies, they will pay a heavy price."
The high-level security cabinet convened for the first time in nearly two months after a barrage of rockets was fired from Lebanon into northern Israel, in an attack attributed to the Gaza-based Hamas terror group.
"I have made it clear that our enemies should not misjudge us: The internal debate in Israel will not prevent us from taking action against them wherever and whenever necessary. All of us, without exception, are united on this," Netanyahu said.
"We have no intention of changing the status quo on the Temple Mount. We are calling for calming the situation and we will take strong action against extremists who use violence there," he continued. "Regarding the aggression against us on other fronts, we will strike our enemies and they will pay the price for any act of aggression."
"Our enemies will discover, again, that at moments of truth, the citizens of Israel stand united and unified, and back the actions of the [army] and the other security services to defend our country and our people."
The meeting followed an assessment that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held with defense officials. Israel’s army said at least 34 rockets were launched into Israeli territory from southern Lebanon, and that it intercepted 25 with its Iron Dome air defense system. Two people have been reported to be wounded so far but were in stable condition.
Ministers and top defense officials met before the security cabinet meeting, during which they were expected to discuss the potential responses to the rocket attacks. Israel's National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, police commissioner Kobi Shabtai, and chief of police’s Jerusalem district Doron Turgeman were among those present at the forum.
The attack marked the largest number of rockets fired from Lebanon since 2006, when thousands of projectiles were launched at Israel.
Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant gave “initial directives” to army chief Major General Herzi Halevi following the attack. “Gallant has been briefed on the details of the recent security events on Israel’s northern border, and has given initial directives to the [army] Chief of the General Staff and the wider defense establishment,” his office said.
The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said that the Gaza-based terror group Hamas is behind the rocket fire on the Israeli north.
“Lebanon is responsible when rockets are fired from its territory. The IDF is highly prepared and we are looking at who knew about the shooting and whether the Iranians are involved," the IDF added.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group hailed the rocket attack, calling it a "heroic act" and noting that "all resistance forces stand in one front against the Zionist enemy." The rocket attack came amid heightened tensions after Israeli police clashed with Palestinians at Jerusalem's Temple Mount the day prior.