Israel is claiming victory in the 50-day war with Hamas, which temporarily ended in a ceasefire that went into force Tuesday.
"We were victorious in the negotiation phase,” said Liran Dan, Head of the National Information Directorate in the Prime Minister's Office, in an interview with IDF Radio Wednesday. “The military blow that the IDF dealt Hamas – the hardest it has experienced since it was founded – was heavy and meaningful. What we saw is that in a prolonged and well executed campaign, Hamas suffered a harsh military blow and damage to the most heavily constructed arrays it built.”
Idan said that Hamas built up networks of rockets, attack tunnels and terror forces over years with the intent of using them against Israel, and these have been smashed by the IDF.
"We should ask the opposite question,” Dan said. “What has Hamas achieved with this campaign? It set out with a very clear goal and did not achieve it.” Hamas wanted sea and air ports, it wanted funding allowed into Gaza, it wanted the blockade of Gaza lifted, it wanted the terrorists who were released in the Schalit deal and recently rearrested released, it wanted Turkey and Qatar to mediate in the negotiations, and received none of these things, he noted. Hamas thought that the Israeli public's spirit would break after one week's fighting, and was proved wrong, he insisted.
Dan also noted that Hamas's order of battle is larger than that of the entire Islamic State.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did not hold a Cabinet vote on the decision to cease fire. He relied on a legal opinion that allows him to make the decision on his own, without Cabinet approval. Netanyahu preferred not to bring the matter to a vote because he would have faced opposition from four ministers – Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home), Avigdor Liberman and Yitzchak Aharonovich (Yisrael Beytenu) and Gilad Erdan (Likud).
Residents of the Gaza Belt are very unhappy about the cease fire, but Brigadier General Motti Almoz, the IDF Spokesman, promised the residents that IDF forces will not be withdrawn from the Gaza Belt any time soon.
"We are present around the Gaza Belt all of the time and we will not leave it until we see the situation stabilizing,” he assured. “We are doing this with a lot of love and there is no argument or disagreement with the residents of the Gaza Belt. The residents have experienced something. The burden of proof is on us, and we understand this. We will not budge from there until trust is restored.”
The celebrations in Gaza are not surprising but they do not represent the true feelings in the leadership of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, he added. “It will take ten years to repair the damage caused to Gaza in this operation, but it has the potential to create a completely different security reality. The fact that entire strategic arrays of Hamas have collapsed is very clear.