Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu commended the teams operating the Iron Dome missile defense system Wednesday, saying they had set a new standard by intercepting more than 90% of rockets launched from Gaza towards Israeli civlian population centers.
Speaking at a special cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said he believed Islamic Jihad was "beginning to get the message" that Israel would defend itself.
"They understand we will continue to pound them mercilessly and that we are determined to defend ourselves," the prime minister said adding the terror group would be mistaken to expect that their rocket attacks could weaken Israel's resolve.
Netanyahu said the IDF was continuing to strike Islamic Jihad targets and accused the Gaza faction of responsibility for most of the terrorist attacks emanating from the Strip in the past year.
New Right leader Naftali Bennett, making his first statement as defense minister, said that Israel would not hesitate to strike at those who attack it.
"We are sending a clear message to our enemies on all fronts, that anyone intending to harm Israel will never be safe," he said.
At least 18 Palestinians have been killed by the IDF strikes on Gaza, officials in the Hamas-run enclave said Wednesday.
Referring to the targeted killing of on Tuesday of Baha Abu al-Ata, Bennett said the security forces had carried out an operation crucial to Israel's defense.
"This was an architect of Islamic Jihad's terror activity against Israeli civilians and he was eliminated," he said, adding that Israel would not hesitate to carry out similar operations in the future.
IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi also warned Tuesday that Israel could carry out more targeted killings.