Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Sunday evening addressed the nation. Following is a portion of their remarks.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu:
· The nation’s heart is with the families of the fallen. Our condolences to the families.
· We will restore quiet to the south and all areas of the country.
· Troops are performing professionally and with a determination, both militarily and in spirit.
· This is a part of the historic battle targeting the state since it was established.
· We are doing everything possible to protect our citizens.
· We did not want this war but now that we were compelled to take part, we will continue until our goals are achieved, the elimination of the terrorist infrastructure.
· Tonight we uncovered additional tunnels, some which lead directly into Israeli territory.
· If the tunnels were not uncovered the outcome could have been disastrous.
· Hamas invested enormous sums in building this terrorist infrastructure.
· There is no question Hamas invested heavily in this system, which includes electricity and infrastructure, all to strike out at Israel.
· Our operation carries risks but it is nevertheless essential.
· Other options would have been less complicated but would not get the job done.
· We are working against the Hamas plan.
· There is no guarantee of 100% success but we will do the best we can.
· We handled the operation on numerous fronts, including acceptance of the Hamas ceasefire, the UN and Red Cross ceasefire.
· As a result, we now have the backing of the international community, which is not something we take for granted. Israel has the right to protect herself and defend her citizens.
· I spoke with President Obama an hour ago and updated him and thanked him for his support. The ceasefire shows it is not Israel that opted for the escalation, but Hamas.
· We are doing our utmost not to harm Gazan residents while Hamas is doing all it can to harm the citizens of Gaza. The blame falls exclusively on Hamas.
· We invested enormous funds in the Iron Dome, which has proven itself.
· The military operation is ongoing as we speak.
· I would like to express my admiration for all the soldiers and officers taking part I the operation, especially the reservists who left their families and their lives.
· In every battle there are difficult events as is the case in the ongoing operation. The operation is however moving ahead as planned and it will continue for as long as needed to restore quiet. I said in the outset it could take time but the eternal nation is not afraid. We are proud of our brave soldiers. B’ezras Hashem we will be matzliach.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon:
· Let me begin by expressing my condolences to the families of the fallen. The pain is enormous. Each loss is an entire world.
· My sincere wishes for a speedy recovery to the wounded, as well as to the civilians wounded from rocket fire since the beginning of the operation.
· The best the IDF has to offer are operating in Gaza including artillery, tanks, armored, infantry, intelligence, engineering, reservists and standing army.
· A great deal has been accomplished and the price is high, the price of war.
· We are fighting a terrorist entity that remains unyielding in its goal to attack and destroy us.
· We have hit Hamas hard and will continue doing so, hitting its institutions and fighters. The plan is laid out and was approved by the cabinet.
· Hamas is responsible for each death and each building that collapses.
· We are sorry and pained over each and every Gazan civilian killed but this is the result of Hamas using the civilians as human shields.
· This is the result of digging tunnel under civilian homes like in Shajaia.
· The prime minister and I give total backing to the officers and their combatants. They remain determined to get the job done, to accomplish the mission.
· There are long days of warfare ahead and we must bite our lips and endure until the tunnels and rockets are dismantled.
· We will restore security to the residents of Israel.
· In my name and the name of the prime minister, I wish to thank residents of Israel, especially you in the southern areas.
· This gives us the koach to continue until we achieve our goal.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz:
The chief of staff did not attend as planned explaining he is compelled to remain in the field and address the ongoing operation.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)