Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Sunday that Israel will strike Gaza if necessary and will not allow Palestinian militants to "change the rules" in southern Israel following an escalation of insecurity in the area.
Barak, who talked to Army Radio, said Israel will make sure that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have the "freedom" to operate along the Gaza border.
"The primary fight is along the fence, where we're trying to ensure that Israel can operate normally and protect itself," he told the radio.
"This is not North America or Western Europe, it's a neighborhood without mercy for the weak," Barak said about the Middle East. "We must strike (Gaza) if necessary, and sometimes you get hit because that's how it is in a boxing ring," he added.
On Saturday, the security situation in the south of Israel deteriorated after Palestinian militants fired an anti-tank missile against an IDF jeep, wounding four soldiers.
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) in response raided several targets and killed four Palestinians, including one commander of the Islamic Jihad movement Mohammed Shkokani. More than 25 Palestinians were injured in the airstrike.
On the other side of the border, Palestinian militants fired rocket barrages into Israel's south, wounding four Israelis on Sunday morning. Schools were closed in most of the residential communities close to the border.