IDF Spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari spoke about the IDF's progress in the war against Hamas on the two-month anniversary of the Hamas massacre which sparked the war and the first night of Hanukkah.
"Tonight, we mark two months since the beginning of the war, and light the first candle of Hanukkah. The first candle was lit by IDF soldiers in the Gaza Strip and along all the state’s borders. The days of Hanukkah symbolize the bravery and victory of our people," Admiral Hagari said.
"The days that have passed shed more and more light on the courage of our citizens, active duty IDF soldiers, and reserve IDF soldiers, and security forces personnel. Men and women from all parts of Israeli society, each in their own way.
He said that "hostages who have experienced and are experiencing hell, fought against the terrorists who abducted them and are showing immense mental strength. Citizens and soldiers who charged at terrorists to save lives. Reserve soldiers who left everything - family, work, studies, left and stood ready to defend the homeland."
"Our soldiers who are now fighting do so bravely and courageously, led by their commanders," he said.
Addressing the casualties the IDF has suffered in Gaza, he said: "We have lost some of our best in this fight, the cost of war is heavy. Each and every one of them is a hero of the State of Israel. They paid with their lives for our safety here. A little of their light repels much of the darkness."
"Even now, IDF forces are intensifying the fight against Hamas's strongholds in the southern and northern parts of the Gaza Strip. We are in the midst of a stubborn war along the entire Strip. We are advancing in stages of the combat, killing terrorists, including senior commanders hiding in underground tunnels, and are also destroying terror infrastructure. The IDF and the ISA have arrested and questioned hundreds of terror suspects. Many of them, even in the past day, are surrendering themselves to us. The intelligence we gather from the questioning aids us in the continued fight. We are determined to dismantle Hamas, but the way is still long.
"Today, I returned here after joining the Commanding Officer of the 98th Division in Khan Yunis. We entered the area together, he briefed one of the brigade commanders, I saw determined reservists, I saw them fighting, I saw them clearing the area, killing terrorists, searching for tunnels where the terrorists hide like cowards, waiting for them to come out to kill them. They are destroying the tunnels, clearing the area, and of course are searching for any lead on the hostages.
Addressing the continued attacks from Lebanon, which resulted in the killing of an Israeli farmer by a Hezbollah-fired anti-tank missile Thursday afternoon, Hagari said: "In the north, today we struck, using fighter jets, various terror targets, including terror infrastructure and an operational command center of the Hezbollah terrorist organization, and killed its terrorists. The strike was in response to the firing of an anti-tank missile from Lebanese territory towards the State of Israel, which resulted in the death of an Israeli civilian. We share in the family's sorrow. We are very highly prepared in the north and will respond severely to any terrorist act against Israel."
"It is the first candle of Hanukkah, our hearts and thoughts are with the 138 hostages still held in Gaza. Together with them, all the fallen soldiers, in their bravery and spirit, illuminate for us the goal for which we are fighting - to bring the hostages back home and ensure the safety of the State of Israel.
"This evening, we announced the fall of two IDF reservists in combat. Gal Meir Eisenkot and Jonathan David Deitch, lovers of the State of Israel, and its defenders. Gal fell in the battles of Jabalia and Jonathan in the Khan Yunis area. On behalf of the Chief of the Genral Staff and all IDF commanders, I extend my condolences to the families of all IDF fallen soldiers, the heroes of Israel. On a personal note, I would like to refer to Gal Eisenkot. In one of my roles, I was the assistant of Gadi Eisenkot when he was the Chief of the General Staff. I knew Gal personally, Gal was the salt of the earth, he enlisted in Shayetet 13 and then transferred to Maglan. He continued his life as a young man, started his academic studies, and volunteered for the IDF reserves. He was determined to fight terrorists in this war alongside his fellow soldiers. Gal is the salt of the earth, may his memory be a blessing. Each of the war fallen is a world unto themselves. I embrace the Eisenkot family and all the families of the fallen," Hagari concluded.