After 28 Days, A 'Heavy Blow' for Hamas
Hamas has suffered a "serious blow" after nearly a month of fighting, according to the head of the IDF's Southern Command Maj. Gen. Sami Turgeman.
"The damage to Hamas was severe," he told Channel Two. "We killed hundreds of Hamas fighters and commanders, we hit the enemy's rocket infrastructure, destroyed its manufacturing infrastructure. We hit all the arsenals and and infrastructure we knew about."
IDF spokesman Peter Lerner echoed those claims, saying Israel had hit 4,800 targets and killed around 900 terrorists in total. That figure contrasts with figures claimed by Gaza's Hamas-run health ministry - usually cited unquestioningly by many media outlets - that the vast majority of Gazans killed during Operation Protective Edge were civilians.
The IDF also destroyed a total of 32 cross-border "terror tunnels" into Israel, Lerner said.
"They were part of a strategic plan of Hamas, and an investment of approximately $100 million worth of materials, and we have now removed that threat," Lerner said.
He added that according to IDF estimates, approximately two thirds of Hamas's rockets were either destroyed or expended during the operation.
"We struck just over 3,000 rockets; they launched over 3,300 rockets and we expect that they still have about 3,000 rockets left. This is a challenge we have to address," he said.
Despite the successes and the 72-hour ceasefire currently in place Maj. Gen Turgeman said forces were ready for any eventuality.
"The offensive is not over, and the IDF is prepared to continue the conflict if necessary," he said.
As the fragile calm took hold, Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said only time would tell if it would last.
"I am sceptical. Hamas has already violated six previous truce agreements, I hope that this time will be different but we have to wait and see," he told public radio.
Yossi Kuperwasser, director general of the strategic affairs ministry, said Israel was looking for "arrangements that assure us that this ceasefire is going to be different from previous ones, that it's going to last for a long time and that Hamas is not going to rearm itself."
AFP contributed to this report.