Netanyahu: We're 'Turning Back' the Disengagement
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed the nation and answered reporters' questions Sunday evening during the prime time newscasts after 8:00 p.m., and spelled out relatively modest aims for Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, which completes its 13th day Sunday night.
In response to a question, Netanyahu said that Israel has embarked on a gradual process of undoing the harm done by the 2005 unilateral Gaza withdrawal known as the Disengagement, which ended up allowing Hamas to take over Gaza. At the time, he noted, he had warned that the vacuum left behind by Israel would be filled by Hamas, which would turn Gaza into "Hamastan" and fire rockets into Israel. This is, in fact, is what took place, he added.
The current campaign is intended to achieve “an extended period of calm and security” for the citizens of Israel, and “to inflict serious damage” on terror infrastructures in Gaza, Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu made no mention of more ambitious aims, like completely annihilating Hamas's ability to attack Israel with missiles and tunnels, or unseating Hamas.
Earlier Sunday, in a CNN interview, Netanyahu said that the Gaza operation could be over "fairly quickly."
Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said at the news conference that within "two or three days," the "lion's share" of Hamas's terror tunnels will have been destroyed.
He also explained that one of the reasons for Hamas's decision to escalate the situation recently was that its future "is not looking rosy" and that it has lost much of the support it used to enjoy in the Arab world.
The prime minister addressed the families of the soldiers killed in the operation. "No war is more just than the one in which your sons fell bravely,” he said. “We will complete the mission that they started. We will return quiet to the south and center and all parts of Israel.”
Netanyahu estimated that every Israeli watching him knows at least one person who is taking part in the fighting. “We must stand together, united,” he said. “We must be strong in difficult days like this, and in the days that may yet come. We are in a war for our home.”
Netanyahu said that the operation has received "very strong" international backing because of the way Israel approached the campaign, including its initial willingness to accept a ceasefire, which was rejected by Hamas.