PM Netanyahu’s Statement at November 21 Press Conference with Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense – Operation Pillar of Defense – Cease-Fire
“Citizens of Israel,
Eight days ago, Israel embarked on operation Pillar of Defense. The Government decided to launch the operation after the frequency of the terror attacks originating from Gaza increased over the last few months. I announced that we would respond forcibly to these attacks when we see fit. I said that we would exact a heavy price from the terror organizations.
The terror organizations assumed that we would avoid offensive action against them; they were wrong. We hit their senior commanders, we destroyed thousands of rockets which were aimed towards the South and most of those aimed towards central Israel, and we crushed Hamas’ control facilities. I must say that we did this with the strong support of the leading authorities of the international community.
In particular, I wish to thank President Obama for his resolute support for Israel’s actions, for this operation and for Israel’s right to defend itself. I also thank him for supporting the Iron Dome systems. I thank Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and express my gratitude to the Egyptians for their efforts in achieving this cease-fire.
In a phone call I had this evening with President Obama, I agreed with him that we should give the cease-fire a chance in order to enable a lull in the situation and allow for the citizens of Israel to return to routine. However, Israel obviously cannot sit idly while our enemy reinforces itself with weapons of terror. Therefore we decided, President Obama and myself, that the United States and Israel would work together to fight the smuggling of weapons to the terror organizations – weapons, virtually all of which come from Iran.
From the day the State of Israel was established, it has had to deal with complex challenges in the Middle East, and we can all see that these challenges have become even more complex in the last few years. Under these conditions we are required to navigate this ship, the State of Israel, wisely and responsibly while taking into account all considerations – military and political alike. This is what a responsible government does, and it is what we did here: we made use of our military might while applying political considerations.
Now, I realize that there are citizens who expect a harsher military action and we may very well need to do that. But at present, the right thing for the State of Israel is to exhaust this possibility of reaching a long-term cease-fire. As Prime Minister, I have the responsibility, and it is the highest responsibility, to make the right steps to ensure our security. That is what I have done and it is what I will continue to do. During the last week, Israel has lost several victims. On behalf of the entire population, I send condolences to the families, and wish the wounded a speedy recovery.
I would like to thank my colleagues, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman. We worked together as a team, in full agreement. I also thank the Nine-Member Ministerial Forum, the Cabinet and the Government, for working – each in its field of responsibility – for the citizens of Israel. I also appreciate the factions of the Opposition and the factions in Knesset for standing with us and proclaiming their support. I thank the Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Benny Gantz, the Chief of Shin Bet, Yoram Cohen, the Director of the Mossad, Tamir Pardo, and all of their people for their exceptional efforts in reaching our accomplishments in Pillar of Defense. On behalf of the people of Israel, I thank the IDF commanders and soldiers, the pilots, the Iron Dome operators and developers, the members of the intelligence services, all the members of the security services and to the reservists, who left their families and immediately signed up for duty.
I appreciate the mayors and heads of regional councils for displaying leadership and level-headedness at the Home Front, and above all – I salute you, the citizens of Israel. We have a strong army; we have a strong people. I am proud to by your Prime Minister.”
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