In a phone Briefing with IDF Spokesperson Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, The Jewish Press asked for confirmation of reports regarding IDF special forces which are already inside Gaza, and another which says that armored battalions are already situated around Gaza, ready to go in.
Lt. Col. Leibovich said she could not go into details on the actual location of forces, adding: “but I will say that all options are on the table, including ground maneuvers.”
In an opening statement, the spokesperson said: “The foremost goal of this operation is to protect Israeli civilians, who have been living under fire for past 11 years. Only this year, the citizens of southern Israel have suffered over 760 rocket attacks. The second goal is to cripple the terrorists’ capabilities. As you heard, our first target was a vehicle in central part of Gaza. Inside the vehicle was Ahmed Jabari, born in 1960, the head of the Hamas military wing who was involved in numerous terror attacks on Israelis, as well as Gilad Shalit’s kidnapping. This is a man who has a lot of Israeli blood on his hands.
“The second phase of the operation was an aerial attack which targeted 20 different targets, all underground, which served as launching pads for various kinds of rockets. Among these rockets were Fajr-5 rockets, Iranian-made weapons which can reach a lot further than the ordinary Grad missile. This was the second phase.
“IDF General Staff is currently assessing the progress of the operation and according to its findings, will decide how to continue. All options are on the table, including a ground operation.”
The spokesperson confirmed that Iron Dome batteries have successfully intercepted 17 rockets over major Israeli cities.
Q: The rockets originating from Egypt – who fired them?
A: I don’t have any information about that.
Q: Is it possible the IDF will go into Sinai?
A: Currently we’re focusing our efforts on the Gaza Strip and have no intentions of going into Egypt. The goal is Gaza.
Q: What about the Israeli Navy?
A: The focus of the operation is crippling the terror organizations while defending Israeli civilians. It’s not natural for an Israeli – for anyone – to live in a shelter for such a long time. We’re talking since 2001. Many of these Israelis have 15 seconds to run to shelter every time an alarm sounds. This situation obviously cannot continue. This is why we’ve launched this operation. We’ve reached the point where enough is enough.
Q: How will this affect Israeli-Egyptian ties?
A: That’s a question for Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
At the end of the conference, The Jewish Press asked if the goal of Pillar of Defense was to disable the other side.
A: The goal is to cripple their abilities. Thank you, everyone.