The son of former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon has called for more aggressive tactics against Hamas, calling on the Israel Defence Force to "flatten Gaza" like the US flattened Japan.
Gilad Sharon, a columnist for Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, who runs the Sharon family’s farm, wrote in an op-ed for English language newspaper the Jerusalem Post: "What does a decisive victory sound like? A Tarzan-like cry that lets the entire jungle know in no uncertain terms just who won, and just who was defeated.
"To accomplish this, you need to achieve what the other side can’t bear, can’t live with, and our initial bombing campaign isn’t it."
He said that the IDF's stated aim to avoid harming Palestinian civilians, with targeted bombings of rocket launch sites and known militants, would ultimately cost more Israeli lives.
He wrote: "The desire to prevent harm to innocent civilians in Gaza will ultimately lead to harming the truly innocent: the residents of southern Israel.
"The residents of Gaza are not innocent, they elected Hamas. The Gazans aren’t hostages; they chose this freely, and must live with the consequences.
"Why are the citizens of Gaza immune? If the Syrians were to open fire on our towns, would we not attack Damascus? If the Cubans were to fire at Miami, wouldn’t Havana suffer the consequences?
"That’s what’s called 'deterrence' – if you shoot at me, I’ll shoot at you. There is no justification for the State of Gaza being able to shoot at our towns with impunity. We need to flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too.
"There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing. Then they’d really call for a ceasefire.
Were this to happen, the images from Gaza might be unpleasant – but victory would be swift, and the lives of our soldiers and civilians spared."
He said the next option would be to reoccupy the entire Gaza Strip, which Israel withdrew from in 2006.
Many commentators, including those known for pro-Israel leanings, criticised Sharon's comments, and the decision of the Jerusalem Post to publish them.