Israel's defense minister has announced an 'all-out war' against the Gaza Strip, blaming Hamas for the ongoing massacre in the region.
"This operation will be extended and deepened as we find necessary. Our goal is to strike Hamas and stop the attacks on Israel," Ehud Barak said at a special meeting held at the Knesset (the Israeli parliament) on Monday, Jerusalem Post reported.
"Hamas controls Gaza and is responsible for everything happening there and for all attacks carried out from within the strip. The goals of this operation are to stop Hamas from attacking our citizens and soldiers," Barak added.
The remarks were made Israeli bombardment of the costal strip continued for a third consecutive day. The offensive which began early Saturday has left over 312 people dead and at least 1,500 others wounded, Palestinian medical sources said.
"This is an all-out war against Hamas and its branches... The security establishment has been preparing for such an operation for many months," Barak said.
The Israeli defense minister claimed that the military has been striking Hamas targets but 'not the civilians'.
This is while the military warplanes and helicopters had struck schools, a prison, a television station as well as a mosque in addition to more than 60 Hamas targets since Saturday.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni however, said the high number of civilian casualties is a quite normal outcome of war.
Meanwhile the opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu accused the government for acting 'so late', saying "For firing at citizens, hiding behind citizens, causing suffering to our citizens to their own citizens, we will strike Hamas."
The former prime minister also urged the defense minister to put all his efforts into toppling the Hamas government in Gaza.
"Our goal should be double...Stopping the attacks can be done within a short period of time, while eliminating the threat of rocket attacks from Gaza will entail toppling the Hamas rule over the Strip," the former prime minister said.
"No country in the world would do otherwise, and no nation would restrain itself for so long, for too long," He claimed.
Hamas responded the Israeli bombardment of the territory by firing mortar shells and rockets into Israel. So far the rocket attacks have only killed two and wounded 14 others in the coastal town of Ashkelon, and the southern town of Netivot.
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