“Operation Black Belt,” the name given post-mortem to the elimination of Islamic Jihad military commander Abu al-Ata, may have achieved its immediate goals of eliminating top terrorists, but the IDF will continue targeting terrorists and dismantling the terror infrastructure in Gaza, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said Thursday. Summing up the events of the previous 50 hours or so, Bennett said that “the rules have changed,” and that terrorists need to realize that they, too, are at risk of elimination.
“Within 48 hours we eliminated 20 terrorists,” Bennett said in a statement. “The battle is not over at this stage,” despite a ceasefire that went into effect early Thursday. “The IDF will operate with complete freedom and with no limitations. Any terrorist who tries to harm Israeli citizens will not be able to sleep in peace, not in his home and not in his bed, and not in any hiding place.”
With the commencement of the ceasefire, the Homefront Command on Thursday lifted nearly all restrictions on activities throughout the country. Nearly all schools were open, and the full Israel Railways train schedule that had been suspended for the previous two days was back in effect. With that, Bennett appealed to the public “to be aware in the coming hours,” in case the ceasefire broke down. “I am very proud of the IDF and all security services, who even now remain on guard. I am proud of the Israeli public and of residents of southern Israel and the Gaza border area, who continue to show their strength and solidarity during these trying times. Seeing that strengthens all of us,” Bennett added.