Yossi Cohen
Yossi CohenYossi Zeliger/TPS

Former Mossad chief Yossi Cohen has urged Israel not to end the war until there are no more traces of the Hamas terror organization left in Gaza.

"The strategic goal of the Gaza operation needs to be freeing the Gaza Strip from all presence of the Hamas organization," Cohen told Israel Hayom. "A civilian Hamas organization, a military Hamas organization - we don't need to differentiate between them, all of them need to cease existing."

He added that this goal is indeed realistic, explaining, "It isn't simple to achieve, since we are discussing a very asymmetrical war. We act according to the laws of war with regards to all those who are uninvolved, and we, as always, act to harm only terrorists. But the area is complicated, since Hamas is present within a civilian population and it forces them to act according to its wishes. There is no question that the challenge for our forces will be great, but I know that the IDF is prepared for it, capable of it, even though it is not a simple task."

When asked about the Israeli civilians held hostage in Gaza, Cohen said, "We are not speaking directly with Hamas - we did not do that even once - but at the same time various middlemen are certainly busy with negotiations for their release. These are negotiations which I know are ongoing, while they are still speaking. Even Hamas has interests and compensations which it is expected to request, which I am not involved with, but I think that the absolute Israeli demand needs to be the immediate return of all of the hostages, unconditionally, to the State of Israel's territory."

Cohen stressed that the world stands with Israel, after understanding the enormity of our enemy's inhumanity: "I think we were all shocked. I can't think that any one of us thought that that there could be brutality which was translated into the horrific acts which they committed. I don't think there is a person in this world who was not shocked by the enormity of the brutality."

"In private, we receive enormous support in every area we ask for it, and I won't specify the areas, but it is enormous on all levels and from all leaders in the field. They are in support of us very clearly, they worry together with us about this abnormal organization, they are afraid of this organization existing in our shared neighborhood, and they will do everything, together with us, everything possible in order to help us eliminate terror - because one time it's Hamas, the next time it's Islamic Jihad, and the time after that it's Hezbollah - and return the hostages. I am working with them on both these issues simultaneously," he concluded.