Members of Hamas' Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades. (Hassan Jedi/Flash90) Members of Hamas' Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades. (Hassan Jedi/Flash90)

Netanyahu said on Thursday that continued rocket fire from Gaza makes another war against terrorists in the coastal enclave inevitable.

By United with Israel Staff and AP

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu divulged that advanced plans were in place to strike Gaza and said he would decide the optimal timing of the offensive, given the Gaza Hamas rulers’ unwillingness or inability to stop the daily barrages of rockets from the strip.

“I do not wage war unless it is a last resort and I don’t risk the lives of our soldiers and citizens just to get applause,” Netanyahu said in an interview with Kan Reshet Bet Radio. “We will probably have no choice but to set out on a big campaign, a war against the terror forces in Gaza.”

The Israeli leader made the announcement regarding a war in Gaza amid demands for a more firm response to Palestinian rocket terror, which has frequently sent residents of southern Israel running for cover. Netanyahu himself was whisked away by bodyguards from a campaign event on Tuesday when Palestinian militants fired rockets toward the area where he was speaking.

Israel completely withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005 and the Hamas terror group overtook the territory by force two years later in a bloody coup to replace Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party. Israel and Hamas have fought three wars and engaged in several other rounds of violence over the past decade.

“I won’t start [war] one minute before we are ready, and we are preparing for a ‘different war’,” Netanyahu added on Thursday, shortly before flying to Russia for a lightning meeting with President Vladimir Putin.

It was Netanyahu’s first major interview to a mainstream media outlet in a frenetic campaign which will end when Israeli elections take place next week.

This week, Netanyahu alleged fraud in Arab voting areas and pushed for legislation to place cameras in polling stations on election day. He also announced that Israel located a previously unknown Iranian nuclear weapons facility and vowed to annex Israeli communities in the Jordan Valley if he wins re-election.