Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon went on stage, following Prime Minister's Binyamin Netanyahu's remarks and said the goal of the operation was to return "quiet and security to the citizens of Israel, who have been suffering for many years."He said that it was Israel's responsibility to protect the citizens of the south, who have been hardest hit during the seven-week long war with Gaza.Ya'alon met with leaders and residents of the hardest-hit communities and towns in the south, he said, and they had "revealed incredible courage and faith." "We have said that we will not accept such a reality" of rockets continually showering down on Israel and that Israel "will continue to pound Hamas if it resumes its attacks across the border." Hamas has been dealt "a heavy blow in recent weeks as we hit tunnels, command centers, launching pads" and other major terror sites.Gaza, he said, does not look like it did 51 days ago "and when the dust settles Hamas will realize that it had gained no achievements." He added that the leaders of Hamas know they have not had any successes.The defense minister did acknowledge however that "We live in the Middle East and we may have to return to the battlefield, and if we do, we will pound Hamas in the same way we did during this operation."