Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi and Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar all addressed the public Tuesday evening to discuss the anticipated conflict with Gaza’s Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization, and “Operation Shield and Arrow” launched earlier in the day.
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s remarks were brief and to the point: “Already last week we were planning this operation … these terrorists even hand out candies to celebrate the murders of Israelis in their attacks,” he noted, warning that “those who hurt us” would be tracked down. “The long arm of Israel will reach them,” he said.
The prime minister added that it is in the national interest is to deliver a strong blow, to deter Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization — an ally of the targeted Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group — by showing them that wherever they mess with Israel what happened to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad will happen to them, and to end it as quickly as possible. “In this campaign we all stand together as brothers. At the moment of truth, everyone stands up,” he said.
Minister Gallant’s remarks were longer and he offered more details about the terrorists who were assassinated at the launch of Operation Shield and Arrow earlier in the day.
“On Tuesday, exactly one week ago, the Islamic Jihad [terror organization] fired rockets indiscriminately at Israeli citizens living in Israel’s south [along the Gaza border]. Not only was this an act of terrorism, but also a clear message – challenging our presence in this country. On that same day, the defense establishment immediately began to prepare the operation to neutralize Islamic Jihad leaders in the Gaza strip. These murderous leaders were responsible for firing rockets and for orchestrating numerous terror attacks against Israeli citizens.
One of the targets of our operation, Jahed Ahnam, had blood on his hands – the blood of the Hatuel family. He was one of the planners of the horrific attack that took place 19 years ago near the ‘Kissufim’ crossing – the murder of Tali, who was eight months pregnant, along with her four daughters. The additional terrorists [Islamic Jihad leaders], were also involved in numerous terror attacks, and focused primarily on spreading terrorism from the Gaza strip to Israel.
Overnight, once the conditions enabled it, IDF and ISA forces launched the operation with great determination, power and precision. The objective of the operation was achieved: top leaders of the Islamic Jihad organization were eliminated. We came full circle with Ahnam. Last night, those who tried us, experienced once again, the great strength of the State of Israel and our defense establishment. Overnight we demonstrated – for anyone who needed reminding – that we are determined to thwart any threat, and that we will reach anyone who aims or plans to cause us harm. We have done this in the past, we do this today, and we will do so in the future – whenever it may be required.
The heavy price we exacted, was the unequivocal response of the State of Israel, to the terrorists who made a grave mistake in thinking that they could threaten the citizens of Israel and then sleep peacefully at night.
I would like to thank Prime Minister Netanyahu for his leadership, and to express my appreciation for his backing at every stage of the planning process and execution of the operation. I would also like to express my deep appreciation to our security forces in the IDF and ISA – to our combat soldiers, unit commanders, ISA officials and members of the General Staff – thank you for everything you do in defense of our country. This is also an opportunity to personally thank the IDF Chief of the General Staff and Director of the ISA for leading our defense establishment in a professional and responsible manner.
We know how to replicate the actions taken overnight in every arena, against every threat. Anyone who attempts to test us, should understand that they will come face to face with the full force of our troops.
In the fight against terrorism, the State of Israel operates within the framework of a pre-planned, in-depth strategy and policy. We do not act on impulse. In every action we take, we implement our national strategy and policy in accordance with the interests of the State of Israel. We have been blessed with an excellent defense establishment, and with exceptional capabilities.
It is important to note that the campaign is not behind us. There may be rockets fired at our citizens – both near and far. IDF troops may be required to operate along the Gaza border, in Judea and Samaria and in additional locations. Our defense establishment is prepared for every scenario – including for the possibility of a longer and multifront campaign.
I wish our security forces to continue succeeding in their missions and ask the citizens of Israel to adhere to the instructions published by the IDF’s Homefront Command. They are critical and lifesaving.”
IDF Chief of Staff Halevi warned that anyone firing rockets at Israelis will not be exempted as a target.
“”Whoever fires a barrage of rockets at Sderot, those who work continuously to bring about the killing of Israeli civilians, from Gaza, and directed from other areas, is not immune,” Halevi said.
“For several years we have been managing an effort to bring stability and calm in the Gaza Strip, in order to enable a safe and peaceful life for the residents of the south. This effort is compromised when the Islamic Jihad organization carries out offensive operations against the citizens of Israel. The resilience of the residents of the south allows the IDF to act as much as necessary,” he added.
Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar had even grimmer news: Terrorists in Jenin and Shechem have begun to manufacture and test rockets, he warned.
“In the last few days, we foiled a squad that planned to fire rockets into Israel [from Samaria] — and this is being funded and supported by Iran,” he pointed out.
Each of the above leaders emphasized the need for Israeli citizens to cooperate with the instructions of the IDF Home Front Command in the coming hours and days, because “they save lives.”