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Bennett: Ground invasion stopped mega-attack
By GIL HOFFMAN
07/20/2014
Economy minister says had Hamas agreed to cease-fire, the IDF would not have uncovered vast network of underground terror tunnels.
 
Israel's ground campaign in the Gaza Strip prevented terrorists from carrying out a mega-terrorist attack on the scale of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett said Sunday.

Bennett, who is a member of the security cabinet that approved the invasion, said that in retrospect, he is relieved that the Hamas did not agree to an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire. He said that had there been a cease-fire, there would not have been a ground operation and the network of tunnels from the Gaza Strip would not have been discovered.

"A whole city of terror tunnels has been found," Bennett told Army Radio. "Without the ground operation, we would have woken up one day to an Israeli Nine Eleven." 

Despite IDF casualties, Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) said the operation saved civilian lives. He called the discovery of the tunnels by the ground forces "a miracle."

Intelligence Services Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) said in a radio interview that Israel would have no choice but to take control over the entire Gaza Strip. He said that had been his opinion for years.

Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz, who is a former IDF chief of General Staff, said the Gazan tunnels had become a strategic threat to Israel and not merely a tactical one. He said removing the threat was necessary to prevent ongoing serious danger to Israel.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog gave full support to the ground operation. He said his visit to agricultural communities in the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council that have been threatened by the tunnels proved to him that the ground operation was necessary.

So far the only Knesset members who have demonstrated against the ground operation have been Balad MKs. Balad  leader Jamal Zehalka complained Sunday that no Jewish MK had joined protests against the invasion.

"Anyone with a conscience should be against this dirty, criminal war," he said.

Zehalka and his Balad colleague, MK Hannen Zoabi, filed complaints with police, accusing officers of physically attacking them at a demonstration in Haifa on Friday. He said they would file complaints with the Knesset Tuesday after taking part in a general strike in the Arab sector against the war on Monday.

"I will ask to convict the policemen who attacked me," Zehalka said. "When I told them I am an MK, the commander just looked on satisfied and told the police to continue hitting me. Despite the way they hit us, we will continue the struggle against this war. "

Deputy Interior Minister Faina Kirschenbaum (Yisrael Beytenu) said Sunday that she would try to revoke the citizenship of Zoabi.

Zoabi said in response that Kirschenbaum was a fascist and that no one could prevent her from protesting against the and ending the bloodshed that she said was encouraged by Kirschenbaum and Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman.

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