The Prime Minister's Office responded Sunday night to naysayers, stating: The cost of human life could be higher if the Israeli government doesn't continue exercising restraint."
"We already saw this is November, when there were extensive operations in Gaza, but the number of Qassams were higher than ever," the statement continued.
The debate, which began when Defense Minister Amir Peretz presented to the cabinet the idea of creating a response mechanism to Qassam attacks, is becoming more extreme.
Peretz, along with Deputy Minister Ephraim Sneh and members of the defense establishment, said Sunday night that there will be no refuge from the rocket attacks without responding with pinpoint initiatives against them.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni are certain that maintaining the current policy of restraint will bring about an end to the Qassam attacks.
"Let's take a possible scenario in which the IDF's monitoring efforts identify a rocket launching cell," said one source from the defense establishment. "What do we do? According to the prime minister and foreign minister, exercise restraint."
"In other words, let terrorists shoot at Israeli towns? Harm Israeli citizens? Does this sound reasonable? Can we accept such a situation?" he queried.
"No one in the defense establishment is talking about shooting without identification (of a cell). This would be pinpointed shooting in order to stop terror operatives attacking the State, with Qassams and with attacks against security forces," he said.
According to the source, the prime minister's policy is likely to require a price of Israeli lives.
'Not talking about revenge'
A senior member of the defense establishment told Ynet that "if you see a rocket launcher ready to shoot at Israel…in real time – you have the right to shoot him."
"A rocket on a launcher is a ticking bomb. That's how we view our responsibility. It's our duty. We're not talking about an initiated offensive or about revenge, but rather concrete interception…It's neutralization of what we see as a ticking bomb."
Olmert's office, as aforementioned, does not accept this claim. "As if the defense establishment knows of all Qassam launchings towards Israel."
"Just as an example, of the 15 rockets launched since the ceasefire, the defense establishment identified one - 14 rockets were launched without the capability to stop them," they elaborated.
"Additionally, last November was one of the hardest in the past year in terms of Qassams. It happened after the IDF operated in Gaza and was in the Beit Hanoun area," the office stated.
"The foreign minister was correct in asking representatives from the defense establishment: 'How many Qassams have you stopped until now?'"
"The prime minister is not certain that the restraint can continue for a long time," said his office. "However, as of now, the decision of response is a political one and the political echelon decided on restraint."
"Opening fire may lead to a greater danger to human life. The prime minister believes that we need to give the ceasefire a chance, and it might lead to dialogue. Israel means to honor its commitment," they added.
"And those who claim that the cabinet decision will endanger human life are also endangering human life. We need to remember that military operations are not always the solution and the decision is in the prime minister's hands."