Middle East peace talks are ongoing but violence on the Gaza Strip persists.
An IDF spokesperson confirmed soldiers had to respond to hundreds of protesters burning tyres and hurling stones at security forces this week.
Furthermore, the Palestinian Health Ministry reported the death of a 27-year-old killed in border clashes with IDF forces near Kibbutz Zikim.
Three Gazans were also killed in an IDF strike near Khan Yunis after planting a suspected explosive device at the border fence.
The latest IDF action was in response to yet another escalation in violence last weekend.
Israeli aircraft struck over 80 terror sites across the Strip following nearly 40 rockets being launched into Israel.
The Iron Dome missile defence system intercepted 17 rockets.
One target destroyed Hamas’ general security headquarters in Gaza’s al-Daraj.
Other targets included arms manufacturing sites, a tunnel facility, military and training complexes and an observation post.
The bombardment was the heaviest since 150 rockets were fired during a two-day period in early August.
An appropriate response from Israel has divided politicians.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is clear in his assessment of the way forward.
“Israel will continue to act in accordance with Israeli interests and for Israel’s security alone,” he noted following recent events.
The IDF gravely viewed Hamas attacks against Israeli communities.
“Hamas bears responsibility for everything happening in and out of the Gaza Strip and it will bear the consequences for the terrorist acts carried out against Israeli citizens,” a spokesman said in a statement.
“The IDF will act with great force against terrorist attacks of any kind from the Gaza Strip and gravely sees the terror activity being led by the organisations.”
He added, “The IDF is prepared for a variety of scenarios and is determined to continue its mission to protect the citizens of Israel.”
But Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman criticised Security Cabinet ministers for not handing out a decisive blow to the terror organisation.
“Anyone who counts on an arrangement with Hamas is greatly mistaken,” he said at a Yisrael Beytenu meeting.
“My stance on the situation in the south is clear and well known, but unfortunately some members of the Cabinet are deluded and we already know from the past where such delusions lead.”
He added, “There’s no way to reach an arrangement with Hamas, and without delivering the hardest blow we can, we won’t restore the quiet or the calm to the south.
“The majority of the Cabinet doesn’t think as I do. I think that we should’ve already delivered such a blow several months ago.”
Lieberman backed a feeling among many Gazan residents that action was needed.
“Gaza border communities’ residents are 100 percent right,” he acknowledged.
“This situation has been going on for seven months. We’ve exhausted all options. Nevertheless, some 40 rockets were launched at southern Israel over the past weekend, and this clearly cannot continue.
“My demand is clear. We cannot agree to the equation Hamas is attempting to create. They cannot continue receiving Qatari fuel and resort to violence at the same time, and this is why we have to use other measures.”
He added, “There is no need for a ground operation in Gaza, since we have enough means to restore calm without it.
“Even if we kill 40,000 Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists, it is not worth losing one Israeli soldier.”
Zionist Union Chairman, Avi Gabbay, agreed with the Defence Minister.
“Residents of the south have been living under constant rocket fire and Netanyahu remains silent.
“For the Gaza border communities’ residents every weekend is a gamble – will riots erupt? Will rockets be fired or will only ‘several fires’ spark? Will houses be ruined or will ‘only a few people suffer from anxiety’? Will Code Red alerts sound or will only black smoke cover the skies?
“Hamas is playing Russian roulette with the residents of the south and Netanyahu says nothing.”
The ongoing terror attacks saw dozens of residents from border communities attend a rally in Tel Aviv over Israel’s lack of reaction on Sunday.
Protesters blocked major roads and sounded the Code Red siren in Tel Aviv streets.
Rally organisers noted, “Gaza border region residents are under continuous attack and the moves are not called by the Israeli government, but by terror groups in the Gaza Strip.”
Housing and Construction Minister, Yoav Galant, told reporters war was a last resort but an extended campaign against Hamas and the Gaza Strip would occur only when Israel was ready.
“When a country goes to war, it should do it at the right time and under the best conditions,” he said.
“I’m aware of certain impatience residents feel and I am aware of their situation. However, we must not escalate because of one rocket or one incendiary balloon.”
Away from hostilities peace talks continued with an Egyptian-mediated delegation visiting the Strip to mediate between Hamas and Israel.
Al-Hayat newspaper reported that Israel and Hamas had reached an understanding on a long-term ceasefire.
Israel would lift a Gaza blockade in exchange for a cessation of border violence.
Officials had reportedly met the Hamas leadership headed by Ismail Haniyeh and Yahya Sinwar on a number of occasions.
Delegation members had also met representatives of Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip in a bid to prevent an all out war erupting between Israel and Hamas.
Reports also noted that Israel has committed to increase the strip’s fishing zone, allow entry of fuel and more electricity into Gaza and to allow a continuation of UN-initiated infrastructure projects.
Egyptian officials presented the proposal to the Palestinian Authority leadership who expressed opposition to any agreement between Israel and Palestinian factions without the PA’s agreement as the only legitimate representative of the Palestinians.
Time will now tell how things progress in the coming days.