Unless Hamas curbs its arson terrorism and border-riots campaign, Israel may have no choice but to ‎launch a full-fledged military operation in the Gaza ‎Strip, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned on ‎Friday.‎

Lieberman made that statement while touring the city of Sderot, 1.5 miles from ‎Gaza, saying that Israel must maintain ‎the deterrence generated against Hamas. ‎

‎“We are handling things with restraint and ‎responsibility, but the real problem is the erosion ‎in deterrence and the loss of the residents’ sense ‎of security. ‎

‎“Hamas is leading us down a path of ‎inevitability, where we would have to launch a wide-scale operation in Gaza that will be much more painful [for them] than ‘Operation Protective Edge.’ Hamas is solely ‎responsible for this,” he said. ‎

Lieberman stressed that while “there are no direct ‎talks with Hamas” Israel is “dealing with all the ‎relevant elements.” The defense minister was most ‎likely referring to Egyptian intelligence officials, ‎who have been trying to broker a sustainable ‎cease-fire between Israel and Hamas since last ‎weekend. ‎

Gaza-based terrorists fired 200 projectiles on ‎Israeli communities near the border on Saturday, ‎triggering a forceful Israeli response that pounded ‎dozens of Hamas assets in the coastal enclave.‎

Egypt was able to broker a tenuous truce, but while ‎Palestinian rocket fire largely ceased, the arson ‎attacks in the form of incendiary kites and balloons that have been scorching thousands of acres ‎of forest and farmlands in the area for three months ‎continued to rage on.‎

Commenting on Saturday’s bombing in Gaza, Lieberman ‎said the Israeli Air Force “dropped nearly 50 tons ‎of bombs on strategic Hamas positions. I think they ‎got the message and if they didn’t, we’ll continue.”

Speaking of the simmering tensions on the border, ‎which some hedged this week were nearing boiling ‎point, he said “we’ve all seen the reports and ‎heard that kites and fires are no reason to launch a ‎war, but anyone looking around at the thousands of ‎acres of burned fields understands this is not a ‎reasonable situation.‎ We are acting responsibly, but we will not tolerate ‎a situation where residents here have to run to ‎‎[bomb] shelters 20 times a day.”

Lieberman reiterated that “if Hamas leaves us no ‎choice, we will have to launch a military operation ‎in Gaza. And it won’t be for show; it will be ‎painful.”

He urged the residents of Gaza to pressure Hamas to ‎curb terrorist attack and prevent further security ‎escalation.

‎“Hamas leaders are responsible for this situation, ‎but unfortunately, ordinary Gazans will end up ‎paying the price. This is why I call on them to ‎pressure Hamas to choose another direction. We can ‎resume reasonable civilian reality and offer ‎‎[Gaza] ‎economic aid in exchange for the complete ‎‎termination of terrorism and the provocations on the ‎‎[security] fence,” said Lieberman. ‎

The defense minister also addressed the criticism ‎heard from several cabinet members over the military’s ‎alleged hesitance to launch an incursion of Gaza, ‎saying, “I speak with residents [in Gaza-vicinity ‎communities] daily, and I’ve never heard one ‎criticism of the IDF. There’s a lot of criticism of ‎the government, which is more than understandable, ‎but not of the military.”