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Netanyahu: Israel will take "whatever action is necessary"

ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said on Thursday that Israel would take whatever action is necessary to defend itself. Israel exchanged the fiercest fire with Hamas in years after assassinating its military mastermind and threatening a wider offensive in the Gaza Strip to stem Palestinian rocket salvoes. Netanyahu also praised U.S. President Barack Obama for his "clear-eyed" support for Israel. He said the Gaza operation, dubbed "Pillar of Defence" in English and "Pillar of Cloud" in Hebrew after the Israelites' divine sign of deliverance in Exodus, could be stepped up. The military said it had prepared options for a Gaza ground sweep. That, Hamas said, would "open the gates of hell" for Israel, more isolated than ever by the Arab Spring's Islamist tilt. Israel said it had destroyed much of Gaza's longer-range rocket stockpiles, an assertion seemingly confirmed when Hamas claims of hits on ambitious targets like Tel Aviv, Israeli naval craft and secret intelligence bases proved false.

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