The United States should support Israel in any assault against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum charged on Thursday in an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV.

“We should support our ally in its ability to defend itself. Israel is defending itself against repeated attacks,” Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator and chairman of Patriot Voices, told Newsmax at Restoration Weekend 2012 in Palm Beach, Fla. “There have over 850 rockets fired this year.

“Imagine if Mexico was lobbing rockets into El Paso and Tucson. We would be outraged. We would immediately tell them to either stop or we are going to go into there and clear out those areas that are beyond government control – and do it for them. That is exactly what is going on in Israel.”

Earlier on Thursday, Palestinians battered Israel with more than 200 rockets in the heaviest fighting in four years, killing three people as Israel pressed a punishing campaign of airstrikes on militant targets across the Gaza Strip.

Three rockets targeted Tel Aviv, setting off air-raid sirens in bold attacks that led Israel to signal that a ground operation was imminent. At least 12 trucks were seen transporting tanks and armored personnel carriers, and a number of buses carrying soldiers arrived.

Read More: Newsmax.com