Defense Minister Gantz: It’s over, but it’s not done

"We destroyed the underground threat", Gantz says, "we impaired many of the enemy’s operative capacities"

Arutz Sheva ,

DM Benny Gantz
DM Benny Gantz
Tal Oz / IMoD

Following are remarks by Defense Minister Benny Gantz at today’s statement to the press today in the Kiryah in Tel Aviv, along with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, and Shin-Bet Head Nadav Argaman:

My Fellow Israelis – It’s over, but it’s not done.

Our security forces and the IDF, led by the Chief of Staff, have exhibited the most powerful intelligence and executive capacity in the history of this country. I’d like to thank you, CoS, and you, Shin-Bet head, for so remarkably leading the charge.

First and foremost, we destroyed the underground threat, we impaired many of the enemy’s operative capacities, we eliminated over 200 terrorists, including some very senior ones, we managed to thwart Hamas’ plans to infiltrate and terrorize our civilians, also sending in drones, and staying active on the naval front as well.

Hamas was taken by surprise, but these were operative plans that were formed months ago.

I, the Chief of Staff, and the entire military and security apparatus, had been holding consultations, training exercise and briefings, and we came prepared. The Israeli public did certainly experience painful losses, and we share the grief of the families. But we should state clearly: The public heroically withstood the test of terrorism. Ongoing barrages of fatal incoming rockets, fired indiscriminately on our cities, towns, and communities, on Jews and Arabs alike, met the Iron Dome system and an Israeli homefront that is strong as rock. You, the Israeli people, are what victory looks like.
At this point, the military phase is over. Now is the time for political resolution.

On the ruins of the homes of Hamas leaders and of over 100 kilometers of terror tunnels, it is our duty to construct a new reality. Diplomacy doesn’t mean rushed agreements; it means gearing up for long-term processes that can weaken the extremists and strengthen and connect the moderates.

While we were leading the campaign, I was also in contact with world leaders, and with U.S. Defense Secretary in particular. The support for our right to defend our civilians, given by the American Administration, under President Biden’s leadership, alongside dozens of other heads of state, is a strategic asset for the State of Israel. And we are greatly appreciative.

Over the past few days, I have spoken with leaders from moderate Arab countries. Both those with whom we have official ties as well as with those with whom we do not. We have an opportunity for change. We must not neglect it. We must not blink. We must not close the door that has been opened.

During the campaign, we weakened Hamas militarily and hit its assets. Now is the time to strengthen the moderate forces around them. To condition development and rehabilitation – not just on quiet, but also, and primarily, on progress toward bringing back the remains of our soldiers and our living civilian hostages. That is our ethical duty as a country, which I carry with me day in and day out and at every waking moment. But it goes beyond that. Not only quiet in exchange for quiet. Quiet in exchange for hope, growth, and moderation. If we don’t move forward quickly on the political front, “Guardian of the Walls” will go down as just another round on the way to the next campaign. The Israeli government is not entitled to turn an unprecedented military achievement into a missed opportunity. This is our duty to the entire Israeli people, and particularly to the residents of our southern region, who have been on the front lines for years now. You deserve quiet just like the people of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

The people of Gaza also deserve the type of quiet that fair employment will bring in the place of the rocket factories that were destroyed. The ability to educate their children is also the right thing for the people of Gaza, rather than the endless hatred fueled and cultivated by their leaders who have taken them hostage to poverty and hopelessness. They deserve a modern healthcare system, water infrastructure, electricity, and sewage, and hospitals that won’t become safe havens for terrorists and their rocket stores.

My fellow Israelis,

Throughout this military campaign, beyond the many external threats, we have also faced a deep internal crisis. We stopped the immediate bleeding through our police officers, who acted with professionalism and resolve, significantly assisted by Border Patrol police, by the Shin-Bet and the State’s Attorney’s office, all of whom stepped up to the immediate task at hand for our country – countering nationalist terror that had spread through our streets.

I would like to express my great appreciation to the Police Commissioner and to all of his teams that were working under very difficult conditions.

Israeli society doesn’t just need immediate intensive care, though. It needs a deep healing process. It needs to uproot extremists who are stoking the fire internally. It needs to strengthen the solidarity between us all. It needs education that acknowledges difference and encourages mutual respect. This is our most pressing national task at this time.

Finally, I would like to remind us all that security conditions are still difficult. IDF troops are still on the ground throughout the country, prepared for any challenge on any front. I remind Hamas that the cost of violating the quiet will be heavy, very heavy. And still, staying aware, following instructions, and responsibility are all called for at this time.