General: Operation in Gaza 'A Few Days from Completion'
The GOC of the Southern Command, Major General Shlomo Turgeman, gave a detailed update on Operation Protective Edge Wednesday, as Cabinet ministers debate on the future of the operation.
"Fighting against Hamas persists continuously and intensely," Turgeman stated. "We have killed hundreds of Hamas terrorists, dozens of them in terrorist 'special forces.'"
"We have attacked hundreds of safe houses and war rooms, destroyed infrastructure, struck a number of senior commanders of terrorist organizations," he added.
According to Turgeman, the war is progressing well.
"As every day passes, we continue to get closer to achieving our goals - destroying the terror tunnels, both those we knew about and those we are finding in the midst of the operation," he stated. "These tunnels are tens of meters underground."
He noted that at least four tunnels had been destroyed in the last 24 hours alone - and that the IDF is gaining ground.
"We are approaching the completion of the mission," he said, noting that most or all of the tunnels the IDF knew about before launching the operation had been destroyed. "I can promise that we will also destroy all of the tunnels we are finding during the operation."
"This is a significant operational and engineering challenge," he said. "Hamlet invested in tunnels what could have built two hospitals, twenty clinics, twenty schools and one hundred kindergartens."
"We managed to destroy four years of Hamas's work in two weeks," he added. "Hamas leaders are now hiding in safe-houses and sensitive areas. Their leaders are hiding in the basements of hospitals."
Turgeman also spoke, at length, about the expansion of the operation throughout new areas of Gaza.
"Yesterday, we expanded operations throughout central and southern Gaza," he said. "We are hitting wherever we identify tunnels and where Hamas terrorists operate."
"We have a defined mission: destroy the tunnels," he continued. "But wherever there are tunnels, it is inevitable that there will be shooting there too."
"In every area we have fought, there has not been an instance where we have not overcome the enemy," he added. "We are within a few days of completing the mission."
Regarding the attempted infiltration of Hamas terrorists into Jewish communities near Gaza, Turgeman said that "we expect soldiers to work even harder" during these incidents - and that casualties, unfortunately, are part of the war.
"You must remember: this is a war," he said. "There are incidents that are successful and some that are less successful."