Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that the Israeli airforce will respond with force if an Egypt-brokered ceasefire deal with Gaza is violated.
"We chose when it will begin and controlled how it ended. If the quiet continues, we'll respond with quiet. If it is violated, we'll respond with force," he said when addressing the pilots who participated in airstrikes last week in the Gaza Strip.
"You'll be able to continue preparing for the next campaign (if the truce is maintained). If it is violated, you'll return to strike ..." he said during a visit to Palmachim, an airbase north of Tel Aviv, which houses helicopter gunship and unmanned drone squadrons that saw intensive action last week, in the company of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, army chief Benny Gantz and Air Force commander Amir Eshel.
The comments came four days after the ceasefire deal ended a week-long confrontation between Israel and the Islamist Hamas movement that controls the Gaza Strip, in which the former struck hundreds of militant targets throughout Gaza and the latter fired upwards of a thousand rockets into Israel, some of which were aimed at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for the first time.
"Hamas' weapons stockpiles sustained hard hits in precise strikes," and "Most of the missiles aimed at central Israel were depleted, in addition to thousands of missiles aimed at the South, " he said, according to a statement sent to Xinhua.
Responding to criticism voiced by residents of southern Israeli cities that the military operation was prematurely cut short, Netanyahu said "there was no reason" to expand it once its goals were achieved.