As Israel completed the third full day of Operation Protective Edge, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has yet to address the nation, apart from a 1:48 minute statement posted on the prime minister’s website. Over the past month, Israel has experienced a triple kidnapping, an unprecedented manhunt, the horrible discovery of the boys’ bodies and subsequent funeral, the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, widespread rioting in the Arab sector, and now indiscriminate bombing of most of Israel’s civilian population.
Through it all, the prime minister has answered exactly zero questions from the media.
However, following this evening’s security cabinet meeting, the prime minister, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, and GOC Air Force Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel made prepared statements. No questions from the media were permitted.
Prime Minister Netanyahu:
“We are in the third day of Operation Protective Edge. While the campaign has gone as planned further stages yet await us. We have struck hard at Hamas and the terrorists and as long as the campaign continues we will strike at them harder. I would like to thank the IDF, ISA, and the security services for their professional, dedicated and precise actions, and express the appreciation of all Israelis. They are making every effort to avoid hitting civilians and innocents are hit it is because Hamas is maliciously hiding behind Palestinian civilians.
As of now, the IDF, ISA and other security services have successfully foiled many attempted attacks against Israeli citizens but a tough, complex and complicated campaign yet awaits us. Therefore, I call on all Israelis to continue to show the strength that you have shown in these days and hours. This civilian fortitude is a main component of our ability to continue operations until we finish the work of restoring quiet and security to Israel’s cities. The most important thing for us, for all of us, is to guard the lives of all Israelis and we are all working together to this end.”
Defense Minister Yaalon:
“We are in the midst of Operation Protective Edge. As of now, we have hit Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip very hard. Hundreds of targets have been destroyed including the homes of militants, government institutions, launchers, rockets and other war materiel. Dozens of terrorists have been killed and we are continuing to strike at Hamas and make it pay a heavy price for everything it has done in recent days.
This is an opportunity to express appreciation to the IDF; the IDF has been active on land, sea and air, in both offensive and defensive efforts. The IDF has impressively succeeded in intercepting the rockets being launched at the State of Israel and in thwarting the terrorist organizations’ malicious intentions to perpetrate attacks, both by sea and in other ways.
But this is also the opportunity to express appreciation to the residents of Israel. I have visited several local councils and, indeed, the stamina of the public is an important component in our ability to continue the operation. But the public must also act properly; this is part of our ability to avoid casualties. The public must listen to instructions from the IDF Home Front Command. We will continue with this operation until we reach the desired result – the cessation of firing and the lifting of the threat to Israeli citizens and soldiers.”
IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Gantz:
“The IDF is monitoring what is happening in all sectors – in the north, center and south. After the conclusion of Operation Brother’s Keeper, we moved on to Operation Protective Edge in the south and this time we are dealing with Hamas and the other terrorist organizations that are trying to attack deep into Israeli territory by land, sea and air.
We will continue to follow the directives of the political echelon. We will continue to monitor the intelligence reality. We will continue to act patiently and with sagacity. We will attack wherever it is necessary to attack, we will defend wherever it is necessary to defend, and we will attack and defend on land, sea and air. We will use all of our intelligence, command and control, and logistical capabilities. All in all, we are operating well in all sectors. Southern Command, Home Front Command and the Air Force are making maximum efforts. We will continue to act. We will rely on the patience of the public and must ask that it follow the instructions of IDF Home Front Command in order to minimize damage as much as possible. We will continue to take determined action until we reach our goals. At this stage, I would like to commend our citizens and the actions of our forces.”
GOC Air Force Maj.-Gen. Eshel:
“The Air Force is taking both offensive and defensive action: Offensively, with the praiseworthy cooperation of Southern Command, the Intelligence Branch and the ISA. The intelligence agencies are providing excellent intelligence for the Air Force’s operational activity. We have dropped hundreds of tons of ordnance and bombs on terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip, in a very complicated environment in which civilians are being used as human shields and we are trying to avoid hitting civilians as much as possible. Until now the results have been very good and we are continuing the effort.
Defensively, Air Force personnel in Iron Dome and other capabilities are making great efforts in the fight against the rockets being launched in all directions. Until now the results have been good, most rockets are being intercepted and are not causing damage; a minority of them are hitting in settled areas. Nothing is 100% but these soldiers are professionals and are doing their work in a level-headed and determined manner, in short timeframes. Making the necessary decisions is very, very complicated and as of now there has been great success.
We will continue both offensive and defensive efforts until we reach the goals set by the political leadership. The entire Air Force is involved in this effort, both offensively and defensively, and we will succeed.”