"This weekend saw 11 rockets fired at the communities in southern Israel," he said at the beginning of the cabinet meeting. "Hamas is trying to recover from the blow dealt to it during Operation Cast Lead and it is doing it the only way it knows how – through terror.
"A month ago, Israel decided to end Operation Cast Lead and hold its fire. The cabinet formed a unanimous policy saying that any rocket fire would be met with a harsh, uncompromising response. This policy will be carried out until the terror groups understand that we will not, under any circumstances, abide rocket fire."
The defense minister, added Olmert, will be the one to direct the security establishment as to the cabinet's policies. The future response, he said, "might not be what the terror groups would expect."
'Lack of response creates vacuum'
"Israel must respond and it will do so," said Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer prior to the meeting. Minister of Pensioner Affairs Rafi Eitan reiterated the sentiment, saying that "Israel cannot let things stand as they are, but we have to explore our response scenarios."
Minister for the Development of the Negev and Galilee Jacob Edery called the ongoing fire at the western Negev "unbearable" and urged the cabinet to order a response without delay.
"We cannot allow the fact that this is a transit government to halt our actions," he said.
Meanwhile, a senior military source told Ynet that "the delay in Israel's response to the rocket fire may project on its deterrence on other fronts."
The defense establishment, added the source, has been waiting for the political echelon to green light a response to ceasefire violations ever since the Gaza offensive ended. As times goes by, he argued, the military's lack of action creates a "vacuum," which the terror groups use to their own advantage.