Hamas and other Gazan terror organizations have absorbed severe blows and have been set back by years, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said at a press conference together with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz on Wednesday night.
Over 1000 terrorists have been killed, including senior members of Hamas's military wing, and terrorist infrastructure has been destroyed, Ya'alon said. "We attacked and destroyed weapons, launchers, rockets, the homes of commanders, and command and control centers. We struck its capabilities, including terror tunnels that took years to dig. We set Hamas and other terror organizations back by years," Ya'alon said.
"Gaza does not look like it did on the eve of the operation. There's a reason the dialogue there, and within Hamas, is a dialogue of anger and frustration, a dialogue that speaks of rebuilding that will take at least ten years. When the dust clears over the Gaza Strip, many difficult questions will be directed at Hamas's heads following the severe, unprecedented blow that Israel landed on it," the defense minister said.
Ya'alon called on Israeli citizens not to to be taken in by arrogant Hamas statements claiming victory, which were uttered when Hamas leaders "emerged from their underground bunkers, from hiding places in civilian areas including hospitals, schools, and medical clinics, surrounded by civilians - women and children - used as a human shield." "They too know that Hamas absorbed a severe blow. They too know that they were forced to cease fire, via route that they did not want. They too know that if they dare challenge us again, the blow they will absorb will be even harder," said Ya'alon.
"Operation Pillar of Defense was managed, under the leadership of the prime minister, with wisdom, responsibility, and sound judgement. The interest of the Israeli people was what was before our eyes throughout the days of fighting. Even during difficult moments, we knew that we were doing the right thing, and that is to return the quiet and security to Israeli citizens."
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