The Chief of General Staff Summarizes Operation Thus Far

A wounded Israeli soldier is carried on a stretcher to an awaiting helicopter for evacuation outside Gaza on Monday. (REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
A wounded Israeli soldier is carried on a stretcher to an awaiting helicopter for evacuation outside Gaza on Monday. (REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
Israeli soldiers daven at a deployment area near the border with the Gaza Strip, on Monday. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israeli soldiers daven at a deployment area near the border with the Gaza Strip, on Monday. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (L) conferring with IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz (C) and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon (R) at the Command and Control Center of the 162nd Armor Division in Southern Israel on Monday.  (Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (L) conferring with IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz (C) and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon (R) at the Command and Control Center of the 162nd Armor Division in Southern Israel on Monday. (Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)

The Chief of General Staff Major-General Benny Gantz spoke last night extensively about Operation Protective Edge, its goals and its achievements.

“I visit all the units in the field, and all the operating divisions. I am impressed that the operation is being managed well and proceeding as planned. We are continuing to expand and increase our activities,” the CGS said.

According to Gantz, the IDF has significantly damaged the terror infrastructure in Gaza, while coordinating with the intelligence units at the GSS and working with various branches of the defense establishment effectively. “The Southern Command, under General Turgeman, together with the commanders of the brigades and divisions, are doing a fantastic job and I am proud. I believe the people of Israel can also be proud of them. All I see in the field, despite all the difficulties, is a continued, and rising, determination,” he said.

“We are continuing to carry out the military operation according to the instructions of the political echelons. It works well for us and we will continue to act as we are guided to do until we reach our goals,” the CGS said.

He then addressed the past few days of fighting: “In the last two days, there were more casualties than in previous days. We are aware of this. In some areas, the clashes are complex and difficult, and yet, we are still determined to pursue our goal. We have waged very large battles throughout the war zone and I am happy that our forces were able to deal with it despite the casualties and the many obstacles. Ultimately, they are progressing to where we want them to be and are preparing to continue to fight as necessary. It is all unfolding properly,” Gantz said.

Addressing the distress of Hamas, he noted that “every day and every hour that passes brings more dead terrorists and destroyed infrastructure. I am convinced that if we continue and maximize these achievements determinedly, we will be able to neutralize their abilities.

“The residents of Saajaiya also know that they have fallen victim to Hamas’ preparedness to fight in such a battlefield. The IDF has made it clear throughout the days of fighting that people should leave; they have dropped leaflets and sent messages. We have exercised our power in the most controlled manner, but we have no intention of forgoing our determination and not meeting our goals. I regret the fact that civilians are being harmed, and it hurts me to see children and women getting hurt. We are humans and we understand it and don’t want it. It’s important for civilians to clear out of fighting zones because wherever Hamas has built terror infrastructure, and the IDF decides to go there — there will be nothing that will stop us,” he stressed.

“I think we don’t have to measure our missions by casualties. We set for ourselves targets and missions. We cannot agree for Hamas to put civilians in front of us, and therefore, we did everything we could to warn, warn, warn. There are no other armies that inform by mail, drop leaflets, shoot around the target, call by phone and scare people away with smoke. Ultimately there are missions. We have a moral obligation to do what we can to prevent civilian casualties as best we can, and at the same time, we have the same moral obligation to protect our citizens.

“Therefore, we are determined to continue to warn the population and make every effort in the future to prevent this. We will continue to offer assistance. We opened a field hospital to treat the injured and we are transferring humanitarian aid into Gaza. There are no such countries who — at the same time someone is fighting them — provide them with humanitarian aid,” said Gantz.

During the past few days of fighting, many soldiers have fallen in battle in the Gaza Strip. At the same time, the fighting continues. “The IDF is not afraid of tough fighting days and will not be deterred by them in the future. I am coming from making the rounds of several divisions. The political echelons are telling us what to do, the home front is standing strong and we will continue fighting on the war front,” he said.

Gantz noted that it would be best to keep the operation as short as possible, but “at the same time, we have to maintain our achievements. At this point, we will continue with our efforts, we will maximize our attack capabilities and reach our goals. We are now all over enemy territory and will be there as long as necessary. We will learn from this operation like we learned from others. We understand that our enemy is prepared for us, but I believe we will be able to withstand the challenge.”