JERUSALEM, June 24 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday delivered a stern warning to Gaza militants, saying that he authorized the military to use more force in order to quell rocket attacks against southern Israel, if necessary.
"The army is taking strong action against those who are attacking us, and it will take even stronger action if needed," Netanyahu said at the start of the cabinet's weekly session.
"Our policy is to use force to restore security and quiet to the residents of the south," he said.
The prime minister made the comments after some 30 rockets and mortar shells fired from Gaza landed near major southern Israeli cities and communities bordering the coastal enclave over the weekend, amounting to 150 since a new round of violence which broke out last Monday.
On the other side, 15 Palestinians were killed and more than 70 wounded in the new wave of violence, according to officials in the Hamas-run ministry of health.
Earlier, the Israeli army dismissed Palestinian reports that a four-year-old boy was killed by an Israeli tank shell in southern Gaza.
On Sunday, an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire, announced by Hamas last Wednesday, seemed to be taking hold, although Israel refrained from officially commenting on the deal. As in previous rounds, Israel said it would judge the militants by their deeds, not words.
Israel is reportedly seeking to prevent an escalation, but military officials here have stated a policy of zero tolerance towards rocket attacks.
"We will continue operating to thwart the rocket fire, but in general -- quiet will be met by quiet and fire by fire," one senior officer said Saturday.
Netanyahu on Sunday also told ministers that Israel is nearing the completion of 190 km of a security fence being built along the 240 km-long border with Egypt, after one Israeli was killed there in an attack launched last Monday by al-Qaida-affiliated militants who crossed into Israel from the Sinai Peninsula.
The prime minister noted that once completed, the new fence would help thwart both terror attacks and the flux of illegal African migrants.