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IDF Spokesman: 'Have to operate to protect civilians'

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Israeli Defense Forces Spokesman Lt Col Peter Lerner says they have to operate in order to protect Israel. (Source: CNN) Israeli Defense Forces Spokesman Lt Col Peter Lerner says they have to operate in order to protect Israel. (Source: CNN)

JERUSALEM (CNN) - Israel is ramping up air strikes on targets in Gaza.

The Israeli military says 50 Hamas sites were hit overnight, and the operation could go on for several more days.

"What we know at this stage is that Hamas has decided not to reciprocate our intentions to try and de-escalate the situation from last week and what they have actually done is launch a huge barrage of rockets against Israel,” said Lt Col Peter Lerner, Israeli Defense Forces Spokesman. “What we are doing in this mission is safeguarding the population of the state of Israel, and putting our forces forward so that they are the buffer to our civilians. It's an unacceptable situation. We are not willing to let it just go by and we have to operate in order to protect them."

Eighteen Palestinians have been injured, according to officials.

Militants are responding with more aggression:

The armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad says it has fired 60 rockets at Israeli targets.

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