Finance Minister Yair Lapid said Sunday that “all options are on the table (with regard to Operation Protective Edge) – including re-conquering the Gaza Strip.” According to the Hebrew-language Walla!News website, Lapid said the goal of the military operation is to remove the threat posed by rocket launchers and by terror tunnels in GAza. “The operation will end when there is no more strategic threat of terror tunnels to Israeli communities alongside the Gaza border, when Israelis can sleep soundly at night without worrying about terrorism. The goals are to deal with the tunnels and the rocket fire from the Strip,” Lapid said. Walla! also quoted Lapid, who said that “Israel must set realistic, long-term strategic goals – and demilitarising the Strip is one of those goals.
The website said Lapid, a member of the Security Cabinet, would not address the decision-making process that led to the operation. “I cannot talk about what went on (behind closed doors). The decision to launch this operation was unanimous. The timetables were set together with the heads (of Israel’s various security branches). So far, we have unearthed five tunnels leading into Israel, and we have hit more than a few rocket launchers and terror operatives,” Lapid said.
The finance minister also said Jerusalem has used every Hamas refusal to agree to a ceasefire with Israel in order to expand the operation, and stressed that while Israel is painfully aware of the human cost of the operation – civilian casualties – he also said that Israel will never allow itself to become like Hamas. “We are sorry for every death of an innocent person. Hamas’ goal is got sacrifice as many people for their narrow interests as possible.
“I have no criticism of our army at all. I am proud to work with these military officers,” Lapid said.