Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu opened a special security cabinet session Thursday morning to address the IDF's ongoing Operation Protective Edge.
"The IDF will continue to operate in the Gaza Strip with full strength" until the job is done, the Prime Minister said - and not before.
In particular, Netanyahu said that IDF forces had succeeded in destroying dozens of "terror tunnels" dug by Hamas into Israel, noting that the terrorist group was likely planning to kidnap Israeli soldiers and civilians.
He said that he was confident that the IDF could shut down Hamas's tunnel network and emphasized that even were a ceasefire to be reached Israel would continue to destroy the tunnels.
"Until now, we have destroyed dozens of terror tunnels and we are determined to complete the mission with or without a ceasefire. I will not agree to any proposal that does not allow for this."
The prime minister claimed Hamas had suffered serious damage in the fighting, with hundreds of fighters killed and hundreds more military positions, rocket launchers and weapons stockpiles destroyed. Several senior Hamas commanders have also been killed or captured.
The current military operation is "only the first phase in the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip," Netanyahu added, saying that he had communicated that message clearly to American, European and other international leaders.
He also praised the soldiers of the IDF, as well as Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon for their "extraordinary" efforts during the operation, and assured the Israeli public that the government was working "day and night" to secure the citizens of Israel.
"We have a plan and we are working in accordance with it," he said.
For its part, Netanyahu appealed to the Israeli public to maintain national unity. That unity, he said "allows us to conduct the campaign in a balanced and responsible way. Unity gives our soldiers strength," warning extremists "on both sides" not to sabotage it.
He went on to criticize ministers who had attacked the government's conduct of the operation, saying that "government ministers should be setting a personal example to the entire nation" by unconditionally standing behind the war effort.
"The more united we are, the stronger we are."