Retired Gen. Tzvi Fogel, former head of Southern Command, was not optimistic on Wednesday that the ceasefire in southern Israel will last, saying that even if it does, Israel will ultimately have to act in Gaza.
Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Fogel reminded that the Gaza-based terrorist organizations have not yet made use of all the missiles in their possession, noting that the terrorists own missiles with a range that could put millions of Israelis at risk.
“We’ve warned many times that as long as the smuggling from Sinai into Gaza continues, more and more parts of Israel will enter the range of the rockets and missiles,” he said.
Fogel added that in the latest round of fighting, it was not in Hamas’ interest to enter a major confrontation with Israel.
“The conflict which currently exists in Gaza is between Hamas and the other organizations, such as the Popular Resistance Committees and the Islamic Jihad, that tried to drag us to places in which we do not want to be,” he explained. “In the last round of fighting, Hamas was interested in reducing the flames, because right now it has no interest in fighting with Israel. It was the two other organizations that tried to drag the whole region into chaos.”
Fogel said that despite the tolerance of Israel's citizens in the face of the rocket threat, and the success of the Iron Dome anti-missile system in intercepting the rockets, Israel needs to do more.
“Today everyone understands that unless we initiate a determined and courageous operation designed to dismantle the weapons and the threat from Gaza, we will not solve the problem,” he said. “Unfortunately, only some Israelis will be able to celebrate Independence Day this year, and the rest will continue to be under the threat of rockets.”
He reiterated, “They say there are now a million people threatened by the missiles, and I say that there are more than a million. They have rockets and missiles that haven’t been used yet, and they can reach cities even north of Ashdod.”
“We need to make sure there are no weapons in Gaza,” Fogel said. “Southern Command has prepared plans to make it happen. The question is whether we’ll have a leader with enough courage to make the decision to act in Gaza, fighting on land and not just from the air.”
Finally, Fogel said, “We have to remember that Iron Dome is only successful 85 percent of the time. The terrorist organizations know this as well, so I suggest not relying only on missile interception, but to try to make sure they do not have such missiles. Gaza is not Lebanon, it is a small region 45 kilometers by 45 kilometers, and we can do it.”
Earlier on Wednesday, the current head of Southern Command said he isn't sure how long the 'cease-fire' with Gaza's terror groups will last.
"There are many different organizations in Gaza and there is no one body that has full control," Maj.-Gen. Tal Russo told reporters.
"The IDF is following the events and is preparing for all possibilities," Russo said. "If the silence is broken we have many tools to respond with, and in the last round we did not use them all", Russo emphasized.
Despite reports that Egypt had brokered a ceasefire between Israel and the Gaza-based terror groups,late Monday night, terrorists continued to fire rockets and missiles into Israel throughout the day on Tuesday.
Just hours after Russo spoke to reporters while touring schools in Israel's south, the Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted a Be’er Sheva bound Grad missile.