OC Southern Command: Israel restored deterrence

Maj.-Gen. Tal Russo says Pillar of Defense badly damaged Hamas, quiet in South a testament to operation's success.

Tal Russo surveys scene of border incident (photo credit: IDF Spokesman's Office)
Tal Russo surveys scene of border incident
(photo credit: IDF Spokesman's Office)
Hamas paid a heavy price during Israel’s eight-day operation this month to stem rocket fire, and Israeli deterrence is stronger today than it was before the confrontation, OC Southern Command Maj.- Gen. Tal Russo said Tuesday.
Speaking from Beersheba six days after Operation Pillar of Defense came to an end, Russo warned, “We will know how to keep our side of the arrangement. If they violate it, we have responses.”
Russo said he was surprised by the “total quiet” which came into effect within an hour of the truce and which lasted six days afterwards, saying this was the first time such a development occurred after an escalation.
He noted, however, an increase in violent disorder along the Gaza border.
“There’s a good reason for Hamas to stop its rocket attacks,” Russo said. “We can measure results only after a reasonable period of time passes. Hamas has been badly damaged.
Deterrence is in place, despite the victory cries we heard in Gaza.
Israel and Hamas both know Hamas has been hit hard,” the military commander added.
Addressing attempts by Gazan terror factions to rearm themselves with rockets, Russo said the goal of fully stopping rearmament had never been set. Rather, “We can improve on our previous situation [by slowing down rearmament efforts].”
Russo reiterated the reasons that led Israel to embark on the operation, citing weekly barrages of rockets on southern towns that made normal life impossible, and increasing terrorist attacks on IDF border patrol missions along the Gaza fence.
“Hamas’s long-range rocket fire has been all but destroyed, despite occasional launches at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Its underground rockets with a range of 20-40 rockets have been hit hard, and Hamas’s drone capabilities were destroyed,” Russo said, listing the damages incurred by Hamas.
“Dozens of terrorists are dead,” he added. “We had many tools, but we didn’t want to activate them all,” Russo said, discussing the land maneuver that was never launched.
He praised the cross-arms cooperation on display during the operation between the various branches of the IDF. Russo also praised the rapid deployment of reserve forces, calling their resolve “amazing.”
The southern commander downplayed complaints by reserves about conditions at staging area, saying, “I didn’t hear such strong complaints.
There are always things to improve upon. We will study this, like we study all things, and seek improvements.”