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Netanyahu: Hamas will pay 'heavy price' for rocket fire on Jerusalem

Netanyahu: Hamas will pay 'heavy price' for rocket fire on Jerusalem
© Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE condemned Hamas on Monday following dozens of rocket attacks into Israel that set off air raids as far away as Jerusalem as violence continues to escalate in and around the holy city.

In a statement carried by multiple news outlets, Netanyahu warned that Hamas, the political organization and militant group that controls the Gaza Strip, would pay a "heavy price" for the attacks. The attacks did not appear to cause any injuries or deaths.

“Whoever attacks us will pay a heavy price,” Netanyahu warned, according to The Associated Press, while adding that the conflict could ”continue for some time.”

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“The terrorist organizations in Gaza crossed a red line and attacked us with missiles at the entrances to Jerusalem. Israel will respond with great force," the prime minister added, according to The Washington Post. “We did not want to escalate, but those who chose to escalate will be hit forcefully."

An Israeli airstrike targeting the Gaza Strip apparently in response to the rocket barrage killed at least 20 people, including nine children and three Hamas militants, according to Gaza's health ministry.

The Pentagon defended Israel's response at a press briefing Monday afternoon.

"Today’s rocket attack from Gaza into Israel is unacceptable, and the United States supports Israel’s right to self defense, and here at the department we’re going to continue our cooperation to ensure that Israel has what it needs to defend and project itself," said Pentagon press secretary John Kirby.

"Obviously we don’t want to see innocent lives taken and nobody wants to see this level of violence but as I said ... these rocket attacks from Gaza are unacceptable," he added.

Violence has escalated in the region for weeks as Palestinians in Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood have accused Israeli settlers of illegally evicting them from their homes.

State Department spokesman Ned Price condemned the rocket fire in Israel but also called on calm from all sides.

A diplomatic official, cited by the AP, said the United Nations, Egypt and Qatar, which have acted as mediators between Israel and Hamas, were trying to stop the fighting.