IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, said this afternoon (Tuesday) that the return of the hostages is a silver lining and added that the IDF is ready to continue fighting.
"76 hostages have been returned to their homes so far," Halevi said. "Children, women, civilians and soldiers, who were kidnapped by Hamas, a cruel, merciless terrorist organization and not all of them are back yet. Each one who returns is a great relief, but there is no relief in the fact that there are fewer left. We will work to return them all."
He also said: "The return of the hostages is a silver lining for all of us. It is also another testimony to the results of significant military pressure and resolute ground operations, which created the conditions for the return of our civilians home."
Regarding the end of the ceasefire, he said: "The IDF is ready today to continue fighting. We use the days of pause as part of the framework to learn, strengthen our readiness and approve future operational plans."
"In the last few days, I met commanders and fighters who came from Gaza, after fighting with courage, determination and daring. I told them - 'You have brought many achievements, thanks to you, the hostages are returning home, and we have many more challenges ahead.' I heard from them an equally important answer: 'We want to fight until we bring back every single hostage. This is how we operate!
"We are preparing to continue fighting to dismantle Hamas. It will take time, these are complex goals, but they are justified beyond measure."
"Today we are in the north of the country, and from here I want to address the residents of the north, they have been evacuated from their homes for some time - I know how difficult the situation is, I know how uncomfortable the situation is and above all, filled with great uncertainty. Earlier this morning, I met the heads of the authorities in the north, I was very impressed by their leadership in this complex period. Together we will ensure that the residents of the north return to a different, better and more stable security reality."
In addition, he warned Hezbollah: "The IDF’s ground operations in Gaza City, a very dense and complex area, aim to achieve a worthy and necessary goal. We will know, if necessary, to activate all these strengths in the north as well, in order to safely return the residents of the north to their homes, to the cities and to this beautiful and very important region."
"I have met with our precious reserve soldiers in the north, south, center and inside the Gaza Strip. Nearly eight weeks have passed since they left their lives and came to defend their home and country. This deserves deep public appreciation. I greatly appreciate it. Their readiness and seriousness as well as their experience. I send my thanks, great appreciation and support to their dear families - full partners in the effort to defend our home. I know this comes at a cost.
"In recent days, there has been a discussion about the conduct of the IDF and the Intelligence Directorate before the events of October 7th. Given the painful outcomes, the interest in the matter is clear. We will ensure accountability. We will listen attentively to every one of our commanders and learn from what they thought and said.
"The IDF and within it the Intelligence Directorate, failed in the events of October 7th. There will be fundamental and deep investigations, but for now, we must focus on the fighting.
"The commanders of the IDF and especially the personnel of the Intelligence Directorate and the Southern Command are now engaged in fighting.
"Personnel from the Intelligence Directorate are operating day and night to support IDF soldiers in Gaza, to alert them and designate the enemy for them. They do this with exceptional excellence.
"They are also working on the most important of missions: intelligence about the hostages. Their actions have already led to successes that are too early to discuss, and the mission, as we all know, has not been completed.
"It is not right for IDF commanders to be dealing now with the responsibility of this or something else - we need them working together on the many complex tasks they face.
"I have not yet met a single commander in the IDF since the beginning of this war, in whom I did not see a heavy sense of responsibility. Right now, everything is dedicated to fighting. We will not stop until we restore security to the State of Israel," the Chief of Saff concluded.