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Cabinet ministers: IDF may have to reconquer all or part of Gaza to ensure security
By LAHAV HARKOV
07/21/2014
Likud Minister Erdan says operation can't be stopped until a demilitarized Gaza is ensured; says Israel may have to reconquer northern Gaza.
 
Security Cabinet members said Thursday that the IDF may need to re-conquer all or part of Gaza to ensure Hamas does not continue to attack Israel.

Communications Minister Gilad Erdan said during a visit to Ashkelon Monday that the IDF must continue fighting until it ensures long-term calm.

"We cannot stop the operation while it is still unclear whether the Gaza Strip will be demilitarized or not. If that means the IDF needs to stay in the northern Gaza Strip to ensure quiet, then we will have to reconquer the area near its northern border," Erdan said.

The cabinet member added that he hopes there will not be a ceasefire in the coming days, until the threat of terror tunnels, with which Israel cannot live, is removed.

Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz, visited Ashkelon, as well.

"The fighting will continue for a long time and could include more expansions," Steinitz said. "If we need to, we will take over the whole [Gaza] Strip."

Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Ze'ev Elkin (Likud) said "this is not an easy morning. We are all with the families of the fallen and the injured. This is not a simple operation...This is the nature of war, so we are not surprised."

According to Elkin, Israel had no choice but to start this operation, which he called a war, and that it will save Israeli lives.

"This is the national consensus," he added.

Elkin pointed out that more people will die, but "this is a war on our home."

When visiting injured soldiers, Elkin found that they all called to continue the fighting "all the way."

"We won't stop in the middle and won't allow Hamas to grow stronger from this operation," he stated.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday that the IDF will call up reservists and continue fighting until quiet is returned.

Overnight Sunday, more forces entered Gaza to find terrorist tunnels in new areas of the Strip, Ya'alon told MKs, saying it is unfortunate that Hamas terrorists harmed IDF soldiers.

"We are prepared to continue the operation as long as necessary, and, if necessary, to enlist more combat forces from the reserves until we bring quiet to the Gaza Strip," Ya'alon stated.

Ya'alon listed several efforts being made as part of Operation Protective Edge: The central one, to destroy terror tunnels, stopping rocket and missile shootings at different ranges.

The IDF struck over 2,700, including rocket launchers, tunnels and terrorists' homes, he added.

"These efforts are bearing fruit while the Iron Dome almost completely neutralizes attempts to harm Israel's cities," he explained. "It seems that we have found a reasonable response to this threat."

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