Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon .
(photo credit: Ariel Hermoni, Defense Ministry spokesman)
The IDF will call up reservists and continue fighting until quiet is returned, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday.
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, the central ones being to destroy terror tunnels and stop rocket and missile launches at different ranges.
The IDF struck over 2,700, targets, including rocket launchers, tunnels and terrorists’ homes, he said.
“These efforts are bearing fruit while the Iron Dome almost completely neutralizes attempts to harm Israel’s cities,” he said.
“It seems we have found a reasonable response to this threat.”
Meanwhile, Security Cabinet members said 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 cease-fire in the coming days, until the threat of terror tunnels, with which Israel cannot live, is removed.
Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz also visited Ashkelon.
“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 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 said that it will save Israeli lives.
“This is the national consensus,” he said.
Elkin said more people will die in this “war for 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.
Knesset Education Committee chairman Amram Mitzna said at the opening of the panel’s meetings Monday that he backs the IDF, which is strengthening Israel in its mission against terrorists in Gaza.
“We are all very sorry about the loss of life among innocent civilians in the Gaza Strip. As the prime minister said, there is no war more just than the one we are in. We did not initiate it and we are not responsible for the fact that terrorist organizations hide behind the elderly, children and women, and wage war from schools and hospitals,” Mitzna said.
Mitzna, a former major-general, added that “as someone who knows the IDF well, I know it is acting out of true sensitivity and tries not to harm civilians.
“I hope we will finish the war quickly and sit around the negotiating table to bring a totally different reality in our corner of the Middle East,” he concluded.
Education Minister Shai Piron, who was present, chimed in: “Too much is being said in recent days, so I will just say that I agree with every word.”