Commander of the IDF's Sourthern Command, Major-General Eliezer Toledano, has promised to find a solution to the rocket fire on communities in southern Israel.
In an interview with Israel Hayom, Toledano said, "It's an issue of time, but we will come to find a solution for the rockets problem. Hamas failed in all its attack efforts during Operation Guardian of the Walls - other than on the issue of the rockets. They were stopped thanks to the very good work of the Gaza Division. What do they have left? The rockets, which are also limited in efficacy. Not that I think it's logical to fire 4,300 rockets at a country, but that's the only tool they have left."
"So they learn, and we learn. The finish line for Guardian of the Walls is the start line for the learning competition between us, and I'm running with all my might, and also looking at him all the time, to see where he is up to."
Toledano added that this "is an insane challenge. Look at the tunnels. This is an issue that was complicated in Vietnam, and it's complicated in Korea, and we succeeding in entering it. It took us time, but we succeeded. So I'm saying the same thing about the rockets. We need to get there and to find a solution for it. If we don't believe that that's a realistic goal, we'll never get there. It won't be over within the next year, but that's the goal."
Toledano added that he does not believe it is possible to "choke" Gaza, which has two million residents.
"I support an improvement in the civilian situation in Gaza," he said. "First, because this is the greatest competition to Hamas. Second, because we are sitting on shared resources. And third, because I'm looking a decade into the future and asking myself where this is heading. That it will be worse in Gaza - doesn't help me. So the two foundations of our strategy in dealing with Gaza are a high level of security, and improving the civilian parameters."
When asked if he would risk security in order to improve civilian life in Gaza, Toledano responded: "We are always needing to balance things. To eliminate Hamas' military abilities, but not in a way that deteriorates the civilian aspects. Whoever wants a clear answer is liable to be disappointed, because there isn't any such thing in Gaza. We need a delicate balance here."'
In his opinion, Israelis need to be less "afraid" of Hamas: "We need to understand that if we are not afraid, they lose. And for them to lose, we need to be less afraid. I know that's not a simple demand, but when we understand that that's their goal - to hurt our strength - we need to be strong and not become afraid."
When asked about the death of Border Police officer Barel Hadarya Shmueli, Toledano said, "There is a price to our existence here. In the future as well, soldiers will be killed and civilians will be killed." Israel, he said, will continue "to turn over every stone" in order to solve the issue of the captives and missing, but he emphasized that "Hamas must understand that Israel has changed its approach."
Emphasizing that Hamas leaders are "men of death," Toledano emphasized, "This is the type of issue we must not speak about. If you want to act - act, don't talk."
The full interview will be published Friday in Israel Hayom's Shishabbat weekend edition.