The commander of the Southern Command, Major-General Hertzi Halevy, said that Israel knows how to deal with all the threats on the Gaza border, but also that there will no long-term quiet on the border with the Hamas-controlled border in the foreseeable future.
"The IDF is well prepared and ready. I think our enemies in the north and in the south will also make a great effort not to initiate a conflict with us because of the power of the IDF, which is the strength of the State of Israel. The IDF still knows how to cope if we need two arenas. We certainly have more than one arena but also two arenas," he said in an interview with Amnon Sofer and Mandy Rizel on Radio 101.5FM.
He added that "at the top of the threats is the entry of an enemy force, under the ground or the sea or in any other way, without us being able to prevent it - where civilians meet terrorists from Hamas or other organizations. For me, as commander of the Southern Command, this is the least desirable outcome. We, the soldiers, are supposed to meet these challenges and take care of them and not place the citizens in front of such a threat. I have to say that the next largest [threat] is the rocket threat, We do not want a rocket to hit, not in an open area, certainly not in a populated place, not in a civilian place, and certainly not with casualties. After that is the arson terror, which I think is third."
When asked about the possibility of an operation in Gaza, the general replied: "I think that it is not true that we should put ourselves down. There is a place here that is full of terror, building capabilities. We are orders of magnitude stronger than it. It will occasionally try us. I do not think it's true what it was said, that over the next decade - and no more than that if I risk a long-term assessment - there will be complete quiet and that we will not face another challenging experience."
As for the possibility of reconquering the Gaza Strip, Gen. Halevy believes that such a strategy would not be effective. "We do not see how it improves our security situation at the moment. Plans are in the works, If we need to, we know how to do it. We can do it, but I'm not sure it will be the first thing to do."
Halevi expressed support for the idea of establishing a port in Gaza: "I am in favor of doing everything to improve the situation of the civilians in Gaza, provided that it does not strengthen the power of Hamas and that it leaves the security reality of the citizens of Israel and the residents of the south as good as it is today. We strive for improvement. [We will only] do something that does not endanger the residents of the south. If there will be a port that will bring in only goods that will serve the citizens of Gaza, and we will not approve imports that will strengthen the power of Hamas. It would be right to do it. It will also lower the level of hostility.