Sa'ar: Hamas has sustained heavy damage in recent days

Former nat'l security adviser Eiland says if quiet can't be reached, J'lem should consider "Defensive Shield" type operation in Gaza.

aluf giora eiland 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
aluf giora eiland 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar told Israel Radio on Saturday that Hamas has sustained heavy damage from IDF operations in recent days. The IDF continue to strike Hamas, he added, "we will not permit sporadic shootings or the disruption of life" inside Israel.
While deflecting questions about a new IDF operation in the Gaza Strip similar to Operation Cast Lead, Sa'ar said: "We won't give up our right to defend ourselves," and will continue to operate, under full consideration, to implement a principle of defending our citizens".
RELATED:15 Grad rockets fired into Israel from Gaza overnightHaniyeh: Israeli aggression will not break PalestiniansTeen in critical condition from Gaza anti-tank missileOn Friday, Sa'ar said that the recent escalation in rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza do not pose a danger to school children in the western Negev.
In a conference call with the foreign press, Sa’ar stated that the western Negev “is an area that over the past years we have worked systematically to establish protection for it and these schools are built up to security standards. In farther away places like Ashkelon the situation is different.”
Sa’ar said the real danger that would be faced by school children in the western Negev is on the way to and from school, a day after a 16-year-old student was critically injured when his school bus was hit by an anti-tank missile. No other children were on the bus at the time it was hit.
Sa’ar said there won’t be any mass school cancellations after Thursday’s incident, in that “today [Friday] was the last day of learning before the Passover vacation and this was the last day for primary schools, kindergarten and high schools. We are trying to do the utmost so that children will continue to study, and only to make changes in the most extreme circumstances.” Sa’ar added that earlier on Friday he sent a letter to a number of former Education Ministries in other countries around the globe in which he criticized “terror that is aimed to hurt and kill kids.”
Also Saturday, former national security adviser Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland said in an interview with Israel Radio that if quiet cannot be reached in the Gaza Strip, Israel needs to consider a more extensive operation similar to the 2002 Operation Defensive Shield in the West Bank.
Acknowledging the possibility that both Israel and Hamas want to avoid a serious escalation, Eiland said that if such a calm does not prevail, Israel should conduct a more extensive operation in the Strip.
There are two options for such an operation, he explained. One is to strike Hamas with the goal of establishing deterrence against the continued firing of rockets and mortars. The second option, he said, is to topple the Hamas regime in Gaza. He warned, however, that whatever regime replaces Hamas may very well be worse than the current situation.
If a more extensive operation is embarked upon, Eiland said, the most important thing is that Israel needs to define its goals, specifically what it wants to achieve and to plan how it can accomplish it. He pointed to the Second Lebanon War as an example of an operation where such an approach was not taken.
He added that if such an operation embarked upon, that there will no doubt be a heavy price paid by Israel. If it results in quiet, however, then it would be worth stopping the current situation of constant fire that we have today.
Eiland said that the best situation Israel can expect from Hamas is a quiet similar to that enjoyed on the Lebanese border in the past five years since the Second Lebanon War in 2006.