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Israeli Defense Chief Warns Hamas Will 'Pay Heavy Price' Amid New Escalation

© AP Photo / Baz RatnerAn Israeli army tank fires towards the Gaza Strip (File)
An Israeli army tank fires towards the Gaza Strip (File) - Sputnik International
The IDF has struck more than 40 targets in the Gaza Strip in the most extensive daytime attack since 2014's Operation Protective Edge in response to the recent attacks by Hamas, which has fired about 100 rockets and projectiles at southern Israel.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has warned that Hamas will regret it if it does not cease hostilities.

"We have been through a stormy weekend. With regards to the rest of the week, it is important to emphasize that we have no intention of tolerating this — not rockets, not kites, not drones — nothing. I hope that Hamas has drawn conclusions, and if they do not reach a conclusion, they will need to pay a heavy price," Lieberman noted.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated that Hamas had been hit "substantially and hard" and vowed that the Palestinian militants would suffer the consequences of attacking Israel.

"Our policy is clear: Whoever hurts us, we will hit them with great strength. This is what we did yesterday. The IDF dealt Hamas the harshest blow since Operation Protective Edge. I hope that they got the message; if not, they will get it later," the prime minister stated at a weekly cabinet meeting.

READ MORE: Israel Fires Missile Interceptor Rocket at Drone From Syria — IDF

According to the IDF, some 200 rockets and missiles were fired by Hamas at Israeli areas near the Gaza Strip over the weekend. Israeli forces were unable to intercept all of them, with dozens of people being injured as a result of the strikes.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem, Sunday, April 15, 2018 - Sputnik International
Prime Minister Netanyahu: Israel Ready to Increase Strikes on Hamas as Necessary
The situation along the Israel-Gaza border has significantly deteriorated since late March, when a rally called the "Great March of Return" began on the border, with Palestinian protesters claiming the right of return for Palestinians displaced during the war that followed Israel's creation in 1948.

During the riots, Palestinians used balloons and kites to drop incendiaries on Israeli territory.

In turn, the Israeli side has been using lethal force to suppress the rallies, citing security concerns and putting the blame for the escalation on Hamas.

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