Defense Minister Yoav Gallant spoke on Tuesday during a press conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister Benny Gantz.
“Two months ago, at the start of the war, Hamas thought that the outcome would be different. [Contrary to what they expected], Hamas keeps getting struck, keeps losing control. This is achieved as a result of the determined and decisive operations conducted by IDF troops in the air, on land, in the sea and via intelligence. The results [of our operations] are very significant, impressive, and accurate. We are operating forcefully. Every day, I approve the IDF’s operational plans. Every day, I meet with commanders in the field, and I see the results. Unfortunately, in times of war we also pay prices – prices that are extremely heavy,” he said.
“Each and every fallen soldier is dear to his/her family, to their friends, to us as a nation, and to the defense establishment. I know many of them personally – I know many of them as commanders or the sons of commanders. I see this loss, and it pains me to say to them, to their family members, to the Israeli people – there is only one way to justify their sacrifice – and that is victory. Our victory must be total, precise, and in accordance with the goals we have set: eliminating Hamas and destroying their governing and military capabilities, as well as returning the hostages home,” added Gallant.
“Yesterday,” he recalled, “I visited the Gaza border and I met with the commanding General, the Commander of Division 36, and reviewed the battles that are taking place in the northern area of the Gaza strip. I see the process unfolding, the precision, the action taken - and I know that our troops do not leave any tunnel, any weapon production site, any missile storage facility or any other infrastructure untouched. They operate there so that it will no longer be possible [for Hamas] to operate in these areas. They destroy [this infrastructure] with all the means at their disposal – they do so with great precision and force, cooperating with the different branches of the IDF, while showing great courage and determination.”
“Five days have passed since the ground maneuver began in its second stage, and I’d like to tell you – we moved with great force from the northern to the southern areas of the Gaza strip. We are operating in both areas. Hamas terrorists understand that there is no one to come to their aid – neither the Iranians nor Hezbollah. Their fate depends on one thing only – the force employed by the IDF. Our achievement in the north will be duplicated – we will hit the entire chain of command, their infrastructure, weapon storages, and ammunition,” said Gallant.
“Lately, I have been asked whether we have the legitimacy to continue fighting, and to that I answer: we do not have the legitimacy to stop. There is only one legitimate thing to do: to win against Hamas, to strike them and eliminate them – destroying their governing and military capabilities, and bringing the hostages home.”
Turning to the issue of the hostages, Gallant said, “I met with hostages who were released, twice this week – I met with their families twice this week. I met them today and on Sunday. Their pain and their stories are difficult to hear. And I tell the families and the few hostages that arrived after being released: we are fully dedicated to bringing back all the hostages, with no exception. The IDF is creating the conditions for this. And we take all the actions and invest all our efforts in bringing them home.”
“We are increasing pressure in order to achieve [the desired] results, and we are also taking particular measures, sometimes while risking IDF troops, in order to gain the intelligence and create the operational conditions to free additional hostages. Every night and every day, IDF troops, together with the ISA, operate to achieve the desired results. We will make every effort to bring all the hostages home. It is our duty as a nation, it is our duty as the defense establishment, and it is my duty as the Minister of Defense.”
“To conclude, I want to clarify - we are fighting a just war. We are fighting an unavoidable war, and we must win in order to continue leading the lives we want in this region. This is why we will take all the measures, we will harness all the layers of the public, we will mobilize the Israel Defense Forces and we will ensure that when this war ends, Hamas will cease to exist in the Gaza strip as an organization.”