Steinitz: 'Benny Gantz, Moshe Ya'alon, opposed Gaza operation that would've brought quiet'

'If we want quiet, we'll need to retake Gaza and eliminate Hamas - something Gantz and Ya'alon refused to do in 2014,' Min. Steinitz says.

103FM,

Moshe Ya'alon and Benny Gantz
Moshe Ya'alon and Benny Gantz
Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) has said that Blue and White leaders MKs Benny Gantz and Moshe Ya'alon have opposed a military operation to crush Hamas in Gaza.

In an interview with 103 FM Radio, Steinitz said, "We are trying to reach an agreement without fighting in Gaza and without conducting a military operation to take over Gaza." He said, however, that he had not heard of Hamas' reported decision to end the "balloon terrorism" in which incendiary balloons and balloons attached to explosive devices are sent into Israeli territory, in exchange for a relaxation of security policies.

"This report from Al-Quds newspaper seems like a media balloon in itself," Steinitz said. "I know one thing, that we are trying, and [Israeli Prime Minister] Binyamin Netanyahu has succeeded for 10 and a half years, to achieve our security goals in the north and south."

"I see that as praiseworthy. I remember how, during [former Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert's time, we got caught up in a war that lasted 3-4 months and we had 150-160 people killed in the Second Lebanon War. The fact that we are stopping the Iranians in Syria, preventing the Iranian nuclear bomb, preventing Hamas from gaining power in Gaza, preventing Lebanon from developing precise missiles with our hundreds of thousands of actions, without being dragged into an all-out war, is in my eyes a major win and diplomatic-security achievement for Binyamin Netanyahu."

He added that "it's obvious that in ten years [under Netanyahu] there have been more rockets than in three years [under Olmert]. We know that Palestinian terror is always trying to arm itself, but that's not the proper comparison. The proper comparison is that we've been preventing Iran from creating a second Iran and a second Hezbollah in Lebanon, we've been preventing Iran from developing a nuclear bomb. We're doing this with great wisdom, with truly outstanding diplomatic achievements."

"Hamas isn't shooting at us like they want to, and since the elimination of Islamic Jihad leader Baha Abu al-Atta we're seeing not complete quiet, but a definite reduction in the level of fire."

However, Steinitz emphasized that if Israel wants lasting quiet - forever or for many years - it will come with a price.

"If we really want to force quiet, and we have the power to do that, to put an end to this, a complete end either forever or at least for many years - it will require taking over and conquering Gaza, at least in a temporary sense, and eliminating the Hamas regime," he explained.

When asked why Netanyahu did not put an end to the terror in 2009, like he promised, Steinitz said: "In 2014, during the peak of Operation Protective Edge, I and others demanded then-Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and then-IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz present their full plan to take over Gaza and eliminate the Hamas leadership. Benny Gantz warned the Cabinet, in the name of the IDF, that it will cost 500 lives and that we must not do such a thing."

"The Defense Minister and the IDF Chief of Staff, in the name of the entire IDF, came and opposed the idea strongly. Benny Gantz was strongly opposed to an operation to retake Gaza and defeat Hamas - and it's very difficult to force a decision otherwise."

Steinitz also emphasized that the number of people killed and injured in terror attacks during Netanyahu's time in office is the lowest in Israel's history."It's true that we haven't reached real peace, but in a relative sense, the number of those killed and injured from terror during the past decade under Netanyahu is the lowest in Israel's history, and because of that, what we have now is preferable to any other government."

"At any rate, if you want to claim that the security situation in the south isn't perfect and we haven't reached the days of the Messiah - I agree with you. But if you want to ignore the fact that in the last ten years under Netanyahu and the Likud there have been the fewest people injured by terror...

He concluded: "I want you and the media, as you try to taunt Netanyahu and the Likud over what's happening in the south, to say: 'But we need to be honest and note that the number of people killed in and injured from terror under Netanyahu, in the past ten years, is the lowest in Israel's history."




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