Opinion

Israel Hayom

The war in Gaza is not over

As the commander of the operation, I recommended to ‎my superiors that Israel should make the most of ‎this success and expand the campaign by allowing ‎Southern Command forces to seize control of Gaza ‎City, and bring Hamas to its knees by either eliminating ‎terrorist or capturing them. My recommendation was ‎denied. ‎

Smoke and fire rise following an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, in southern Gaza, on Nov. 12, 2018. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.
Smoke and fire rise following an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, in southern Gaza, on Nov. 12, 2018. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.
Minister Yoav Gallant (Israel Hayom)
Yoav Gallant

Exactly a decade ago, on Dec. 27, Hamas staged ‎a show of power in the Gaza Strip, parading hundreds ‎of terrorists in Gaza City. A surprised Israeli ‎airstrike, which fired five missiles on them, killed ‎about 90 terrorists, triggering the beginning of ‎“Operation Cast Lead,” which saw Israel strike all ‎Hamas headquarters in Gaza, as well as its rocket-launching systems and hundreds of terrorist assets ‎and sites.‎

On the Israeli side, ground, air and naval troops ‎fought for three weeks with aim of eradicating key ‎terrorist hubs across Gaza.‎

The operation was launched following three years ‎during which some 10,000 rockets and mortar shells ‎were fired on Israel’s south, and dozens of terrorist ‎attacks were carried out nationwide. ‎

The Israel Defense Forces’ Southern Command was tasked with attacking ‎terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, ‎inflicting significant damage to Hamas and ‎bolstering Israeli deterrence, and this mission was ‎accomplished in full: More than 700 terrorists were ‎eliminated and all Hamas headquarters were ‎destroyed. ‎

As the commander of the operation, I recommended to ‎my superiors that Israel should make the most of ‎this success and expand the campaign by allowing ‎Southern Command forces to seize control of Gaza ‎City, and bring Hamas to its knees by either eliminating ‎terrorist or capturing them. My recommendation was ‎denied. ‎

The main factors that rendered “Operation Cast Lead” ‎successful were careful and secret preparation, ‎operational integration within the IDF, cooperation ‎between the military and Shin Bet security agency, ‎the force demonstrated by the troops on the ground, ‎quality intelligence, accurate aerial strikes, ‎operational and logistical continuity, and a ‎resilient homefront.‎

But above all, it was IDF fighters and commanders, ‎who acted with determination, dedication and ‎professionalism, and courageously carried out their ‎missions. Ten soldiers and three civilians were ‎killed in the operation, and we all owe them a great ‎debt of gratitude.‎

A decade later, everyone recognizes the important ‎contribution “Operation Cast Lead” had to the south’s ‎security, as it dealt Hamas a crippling blow. We may ‎still have that advantage, but the war for our home ‎is not over. ‎

In recent years, Hamas’s terrorist routes have been ‎shuttered, one by one, via restrictions on land ‎movement, a maritime blockade, counter-tunnel ‎warfare and the effective protection provided by the ‎Iron Dome air-defense system. “Operation Cast Lead” ‎and the reality that followed on the ground have ‎forced Hamas to rethink its strategy.‎

The balance of power between the IDF and Hamas is ‎‎1,000 to 1, meaning that in any future ‎confrontation, Israel will overcome Hamas. In view ‎of the numerous security challenges Israel faces, it ‎is our duty to act responsibly and discreetly. ‎

Knowing the enemy Israel is preparing for future ‎campaigns, but if we are forced into battle, we will ‎be the ones to determine its timing. ‎

We are a peace-loving nation but at this time, we ‎cannot afford to lay down our sword. We remain ‎vigilant and ready to defend ourselves, on every ‎front, at all times.‎

Yoav Gallant is the construction and housing minister.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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