Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu promised Israelis Thursday morning the IDF would track down and destroy all the Gaza terror tunnels — and restore safety to southern Israel — “with or without a cease fire.”
The prime minister told the Security Cabinet Thursday morning that IDF soldiers have already mapped out and destroyed “dozens” of terrorist tunnels in Gaza.
The prime minister opened the meeting with praises for the troops fighting in the region, condolences for the families of those who have fallen in action, and encouragement for those recuperating from their injuries in hospitals and at home.
Netanyahu had especially high words of praise for soldiers and officers, as did Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz. “Their morale is incredibly high,” noted Ya’alon.
“They are the real heroes of this story, those who are still busy with this situation.,” Gantz said. “Our troops, who understand what they have to do and who carry those orders out with unprecedented excellence.”
The meeting was brief, reviewing decisions made yesterday to intensify operations and call up 16,000 more reservists to allow the current 70,000 contingent of troops some “breathing room.”
The prime minister noted the decisions had come at a price in the international arena, but were supported at home by a wide majority of the people of Israel.
“We have destroyed dozens of tunnels and we will finish the job, with or without a cease fire. Israel won’t agree to a cease fire that does not allow the IDF to destroy every terrorist tunnel in Gaza,” he vowed.
The issue has been one that is at the forefront of southern Israeli residents’ minds: some 300,000 people have left the region for the duration, saying they fear infiltrations and terror attacks because of those tunnels.
As the ministers rose to leave, Netanyahu stopped them. “Wait a minute,” he said before ending the meeting. “I want to underline something for our troops, for the media and for the public: Every single soldier is precious to us – every single one,” the prime minister emphasized. “They are on our minds constantly. We think about every single one.”
Meanwhile, it has also been a busy morning in Gaza for the IDF.
Cooperation between ground and air forces has proved to be a major advantage in dealing with terrorists in urban warfare. Paratroopers spotted a cell of five terrorists moving in their area; transmitting that information to pilots in the skies, an IAF aircraft targeted the squad and confirmed the hit.
IDF combat forces identified a terrorist climbing out of a tunnel shaft in northern Gaza on Thursday morning. The troops engaged the terrorist and killed him.
Givati Brigade fighters also killed a terrorist who was spotted firing an anti-tank missile at IDF soldiers in southern Gaza.
Since midnight, terrorists have fired 16 missiles and rockets at Israel; 10 have reached Israeli territory.
While the security cabinet was meeting, a Grad Katyusha missile exploded in an open area on the outskirts of Be’er Sheva.
Over the past 24 hours, 37 IDF soldiers and two civilians have been admitted to Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon with a range of injuries. Eight of the soldiers were listed in serious condition, seven in fair condition and the rest are listed in good condition.