Israel warns Hamas of 'heavy price' for Gaza rockets
JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israel warned the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas on Sunday it will pay a "heavy price" for the latest barrage of rocket attacks into the Jewish state and that the conflict could escalate.
"Hamas is responsible for the rocket fire and all other attempts to harm our soldiers and civilians, even when other groups participate. And it is Hamas that will pay the heavy price," Defence Minister Ehud Barak said.
The flare-up, which began Saturday, as well as tough statements from Israeli officials, raised the spectre of a broader Israeli operation against Gaza, along the lines of its devastating Operation Cast Lead over the New Year of 2009.
"During the last two days, the IDF (Israel Defence Force), upon my instruction, has been evaluating the host of options for harsher responses against Hamas and the other terror organisations in Gaza," Mr Barak said.