IDF Spokesman: We Will Foil Terror but Not Initiate Strikes
IDF Spokesman, Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai, announced on Wednesday evening that with a ceasefire having gone into effect, Operation Pillar of Defense has ended “at least formally”.
He noted, however, that "the instructions are unequivocal – any threat or fire that will endanger IDF soldiers and residents of the south will be foiled and dealt with.”
Mordechai said, "The achievements and the deterrence will be reviewed over time. If the IDF recognizes fire towards Israel, it has a mandate to prevent it. If we identify a firing squad we can prevent it. The directive is to thwart any attack but not to initiate offensive action.”
Earlier on Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman held a joint news conference announcing the ceasefire.
However, Hamas kept on firing rockets even after 9:00 p.m. when the ceasefire had gone into effect.
Netanyahu said, "Eight days ago, Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense, after attacks from Gaza that were carried out at a growing rate the last few months.
"The terror organizations assumed that we would abstain from an aggressive action, but they were wrong. We hit senior leaders, we destroyed thousands of rockets that were aimed at the South, and most of the rockets that were aimed at the center of Israel. We hit Hamas's control mechanisms.
Netanyahu said that Israel and the U.S. agreed to work together against smuggling of weapons that originate in Iran into Gaza.
Hamas celebrated the ceasefire and claimed “victory” over Israel. The terror group’s chief Khaled Mashaal announced in a press conference Wednesday evening that Israel "has failed in all its goals" in Operation Defensive Pillar, following the cease fire announcement.
"After eight days, God stayed their hand from the people of Gaza, and they were compelled to submit to the conditions of the resistance," Mashaal said. "Israel has failed in all its goals," he told reporters in a Cairo hotel.
Arabs in Gaza took to the streets to celebrate the start of the truce deal, firing into the air and chanting victory slogans.