In recent months, they've been emboldened to escalate their barrages. Since Saturday, more than 110 rockets and mortars have struck southern Israel, according to the military’s count.
Netanyahu on Monday told foreign ambassadors during a visit to Ashkelon, a southern city that has been battered by Gaza rockets, that Israel would defend itself.
‘‘I don’t know of any of your governments who could accept such a thing. I don’t know of any of the citizens of your cities, who could find that acceptable and something that could proceed on a normal basis,’’ Netanyahu said. ‘‘We'll take whatever action is necessary to put a stop to this. This is not merely our right, it’s also our duty.’’
The latest Israeli airstrikes have killed six Palestinians, including four civilians, but the rocket attacks persist. Mediation efforts by the United Nations and Egypt have been unsuccessful so far.
Some defense officials believe Hamas will not be so easily subdued as before. Militants who once relied on crude rockets they manufactured themselves can draw now on sophisticated rockets and missiles smuggled in from Iran, Libya and other Mideast countries.
Lawmaker Amir Peretz, a former Israeli defense minister, concludes that if Israel launched another incursion into Gaza, it would have to stay there for at least six months and take control of civilian installations and lives of the coastal strip’s 1.6 million people.
Israel, which governed Gaza from 1967 until it withdrew 8,500 settlers and its soldiers in 2005, has other options before it reaches that point, Peretz said.
‘‘Targeted killings are definitely an effective policy,’’ Peretz said, adding that he supports the targeted killings of military leaders like Hamas military wing commander Ahmed Jabari, but killing political leaders Haniyeh may not be in Israel’s interest.
‘‘They'll find a replacement for Haniyeh very fast,’’ he said. ‘‘But a replacement for Jabari is very hard to find,’’ he told Army Radio.