Minister Hints at Renewed IDF Ground Entry in Gaza

Gilad Erdan says Operation Protective Edge may soon move to topple Hamas regime; Minister Perry warns of 'war of attrition.'

Contact Editor
Ido Ben-Porat, Ari Yashar,

Communications Minister Gilad Erdan
Communications Minister Gilad Erdan
Flash 90

Communications Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud), a member of the Knesset's Security Cabinet, reaffirmed Saturday night Israel's commitment to destroy Hamas's terror tunnel network while hinting at a renewed IDF ground entry to Gaza.

"I won't tell the enemy our intentions, but even a wide ground entry leading to the toppling of the Hamas regime is being weighed," Erdan told Channel 2.

IDF troops were pulled out of Gaza last week ahead of a 72-hour ceasefire, which ended Friday at 8 a.m. amid renewed rocket fire from Hamas.

However, the removal of troops does not signify the end of Operation Protective Edge according to Science and Technology Minister Ya'akov Perry (Yesh Atid), who likewise sits on the Security Cabinet.

During the ceasefire mediators met in Cairo in unsuccessful efforts to reach a truce. Assessing the situation, Perry said, "Hamas is trying to gain meaningful achievements while attempting to press the state of Israel at the height of the faltering talks in Egypt."

"We are prone to be dragged into a war of attrition, but at the same time Hamas has taken a critical blow, and its amount of rockets has dropped by two thirds," summarized the Science Minister.

Nevertheless, rocket attacks continued on Saturday and showed no sign of stopping Sunday morning. As of Saturday night, 23 rockets had been fired over the course of the day, making 61 the total fired since the ceasefire expired Friday morning.

The IDF responded with roughly 60 airstrikes on Gaza over the course of Saturday, killing at least three Hamas terrorists in one strike and another terrorist in an earlier attack.

Chances of the operation against the terrorist organization ending due to negotiations were left in further doubt, after Hamas deputy leader Moussa Abu Marzouk said Israel "isn't serious" about truce talks in Cairo; Marzouk is part of the Hamas negotiating team.

"We won't stay in talks for a long time without a serious negotiation," threatened Marzouk Saturday, adding "the coming 24 hours will seal the fate of the entire negotiations. We aren't interested in an escalation, but we don't accept that there is no response to our demands."

The terror group has made numerous demands threatening Israel's security, including a Gaza sea port, an airport, open border crossings and terrorist releases.

Hamas, meanwhile, has rejected an Israeli demand that terrorists in Gaza disarm, with Hamas official Ezzat al-Rishq last Wednesday threatening on Twitter "whoever tries to take our weapons, we will take his life."