IDF Not Ruling Out Gaza Ground Offensive
The IDF is not ruling out a ground operation in Gaza, the head of the IDF’s Southern Command said on Saturday.
Speaking during a press briefing on the fourth day of Operation Pillar of Defense, Maj. Gen. Tal Russo said, "We started with a whole plan, which we are in the middle of carrying out, and I want to first of all commend the citizens of Israel for their strength and the IDF warriors for their determination.”
"There's a plan that is upped all the time in terms of its force and it will take time,” Russo said. “We need to be patient. It will not take a day or two days, there's a huge arsenal of missiles. We need to take care of it and we have all the tools to do so."
Russo noted that Gaza’s terrorist organizations store their weapons in civilians’ homes, knowing the IDF will not hit those buildings in order to avoid civilian casualties.
He noted, however, that the IAF was able to hit many of Hamas’ long-range missiles. Asked by one of the journalists whether the IDF is considering launching a ground operation, Russo emphasized that this option was still on the table.
On Saturday, the Hamas government headquarters, which housed Gaza "prime minister" Ismail Haniyeh's offices, were leveled to the ground. In addition, "security compounds, tunnels and electricity transformers" were hit, according to Al Jazeera.
According to statistics published by the IDF on Saturday night, 824 rockets have been fired at Israel over the past several days, 243 of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system. 100 of those rockets have landed in Gaza itself.
At the same time, IAF aircraft, using precise intelligence, have succeeded in hitting no less than 900 terrorist targets in the four days of the operation.
On Friday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak expanded the call-up of reserve soldiers, asking the Cabinet to approve 75,000 reserve soldiers and increasing speculation that Israel may soon launch a ground offensive on Gaza.