Tough rhetoric from defense minister: Hamas is to blame for the latest escalation in the Gaza Strip and the organization "will bear the consequences," Defense Minister Ehud Barak said during a visit to Ashkelon Friday, a day after a massive rocket barrage hit the southern city.
"An Israeli response is required and forthcoming," he said, adding that "the government will make every effort to prevent additional rocket attacks on Ashkelon."
Barak: Hamas responsible for escalation (Photo: Ariel Hermoni, Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Matan Vilnai, who accompanied Barak on his tour, urged Mayor Roni Mehatzri to hold the planned Purim holiday events as scheduled and "not panic".
Barak also met with local fire fighters, police officers and Magen David Adom paramedics and visited a house hit by a Grad missile fired from Gaza.
Also on Friday, more than 10 Qassams launched by Palestinians in northern Gaza landed in Israeli territory. Two of the rockets hit Sderot, lightly injuring a woman. Four people suffered from shock and a number of houses were damaged.
A total of 10 Grad and Qassam rockets hit Ashkelon on Thursday, prompting Barak to order that the 'Color Red' rocket alert system be made operational. The warning system is expected to be up and running shortly. It is currently being used in the rocket-battered town of Sderot as well as other Gaza-region communities.
Shmulik Hadad contributed to the report