Likud Minister Says Operation was 'For Nothing'

Intelligence Minister Steinitz tells BBC that Israel paid a 'heavy price' in 50 day operation against Hamas, no 'significant' gains.

Ari Yashar ,

Yuval Steinitz
Yuval Steinitz
Flash 90

Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) spoke in an interview on Wednesday about Operation Protective Edge, which reached a somewhat anti-climatic conclusion the night before at 7 p.m., when a ceasefire was signed between Israel and the terror organization Hamas.

Talking to BBC's HARDtalk TV program, Steinitz summarized the 50 day operation as being "for nothing. This was an unnecessary round of violence between us and the Palestinians - the Hamas in Gaza - that brought only misery and suffering on both sides, without any significant cause, without any significant effect."

Nevertheless Steinitz, a close associate of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, rejected the interviewer's assertion that the operation was a "strategic failure" for Israel, noting that the goal was to protect Israel's citizens.

"If we now will have a long ceasefire, and if we did resume our deterrence capacity vis-a-vis Hamas and similar organizations, then we achieved our goal," remarked the minister.

However, he noted that any possible benefits in terms of security came at a very "heavy price."

"We paid a very expensive price with 70 casualties on our side, with people that have to flee their homes in the south of Israel because of the daily barrages of rockets and mortars. This is a heavy price for a democratic state to pay," concluded Steinitz.

While Netanyahu's office has declared the operation a victory, noting that Hamas was seriously damaged in the clash and didn't receive it's extravagant demands, the details of the ceasefire agreement have raised serious criticism in Israel.

Palestinian Authority (PA) delegation head Azzam al-Ahmed revealed Tuesday night that Israel agreed to ease the borders on Gaza and allow humanitarian and even some construction goods in immediately, as well as lifting restrictions on the fishing zone.

The deal also paves the way for talks in a month in which Hamas will demand a sea and airport in Gaza, and will negotiate a swap of hundreds of terrorists for the bodies of IDF soldiers Second Lt. Hadar Goldin and First Sgt. Oron Shaul hy''d, who were killed in the operation.

Israel's lone demand of disarming Gaza was flatly rejected in the deal, putting discussions on the request off until later discussions in a month's time.