Former CEO of the Yesha Council and current co-founder of American Friends of Judea and Samaria (AFJS), Yigal Dilmoni, spoke to Arutz Sheva - Israel National News on spending the last four months in reserve duty in Gaza and the public relations challenge that he is undertaking these days.

Dilmoni expressed satisfaction with the voting rates of Judea and Samaria residents, “I am happy to see that the residents of Judea and Samaria are not being silent. They are waking up and want to influence what is happening in our region."

Dilmoni was recruited on Simchat Torah (October 7th) and other than a few short breaks at home, has served in Gaza for four months. His paratrooper brigade was cut off from the news and current events, which allowed them to focus on their military activities. Now their return to routine life reinforces the feeling that trivial things are much less important than they seemed before.

He added that when he had breaks from service, it was difficult at first for him to see people at home continuing with their lives, some who even went on ski vacations abroad. But he realized that he is actually satisfied with this situation because, "why did I go to fight and what was my army service for? So that people in Israel can live a normal life. I want people to live and not feel the war. I want them to go to cafes and movies. My job is to fight, so that the country can live a normal life," he says.

Regarding the gaps in communication that he is witnessing between the combat areas and the home front, Dilmoni says that this is quite common. "Sometimes I have been hurt by statements of some politician on either end of the spectrum. He hears them on the radio and emphasizes that “despite the heavy price and even though there is still a long way to go until the absolute victory, everyone must understand that the IDF is winning the war. Everyone who has experienced the military battle from the inside knows this.”

"In the military sphere, there is a very clear victory here, even though we haven't achieved our goal. Our starting point was catastrophic. Terrorists crossed the border en masse reaching as far as Ofakim. This was disastrous. Other countries would have taken weeks to recover, but it took us 1-3 days to stand on our feet. Our maneuvering, deception and contact with the enemy is a complete victory. Most of the Hamas battalions and brigades have been overpowered or rendered useless. Almost 60% of Hamas terrorists have been killed or neutralized, while some have also escaped. It is true that there are still small cells around, and four terrorists hiding underground are enough to injure soldiers and cause damage, but when you look at the Hamas infrastructure in Gaza, including in Khan Yunis, where they did not believe we would enter, you see that we have reached the core of their system. We walk around here freely, among the destroyed houses, in open areas. I feel safe and know that we are winning. It is important that all Israelis know this as well. There are still some places we haven't reached, we haven’t found the hostages, and we haven't killed Sinwar, but we are on the way to victory."

The second victory, says Dilmoni, is the victory of the spirit. "At the beginning of the war we felt that the people of Israel were embracing the IDF soldiers. I thought it would end after a month, but it didn't. The nation is giving the IDF soldiers a huge hug, volunteering, donating, organizations bring the soldiers food that they prepare at home. The people’s spirit, the unity of the nation and the soldiers are super important, and this must be conveyed to the nation. We are winning and the victory is not only in battle, but also in national consciousness."

Dilmoni talks about his feelings as the CEO of the Yesha Council when returning to the areas from which communities were displaced. He used to live in Neve Dekalim in Gush Katif. "Looking back, settling in Gush Katif was super important for Israel's security and it’s painful to think of what we had to go through in order to understand this," he says, recounting the sand he collected as a souvenir from Gush Katif, together with another soldier whose family was also evacuated during the Disengagement.

"The war in Gaza is against a cruel and barbaric enemy. Our mission is to exterminate Hamas so that it will not be able to control the region again. This is quite similar to what the allies did to the Nazis in Germany. This is our mission and we must be very focused. We can discuss resettling the region on another day. Now the IDF, the government and the state leadership must focus on victory, the defeat of Hamas, the destruction of Hamas and its infrastructure. After we win, we can discuss resettling the region," says Dilmoni, referring to the dispute that arose in the right wing if the time is right to deal with the possibility of resettling Gush Katif on the day after the war.

Dilmoni mentions proof of the brutal nature of Hamas among the ruins of Gaza. His unit was sitting in a building near the Zeytun neighborhood one night, when someone in his unit spotted a figure walking about three kilometers away, in an area where there should not have been any civilians. One of the soldiers went outside and saw a little four-year-old girl walking barefoot. Luckily he didn't shoot her. He brought her into the house. The doctor of our unit took care of her, bandaged her injured feet. Everyone felt sorry for her and we wondered how she got here. In the morning we found a shaft a hundred meters away from the building that Hamas had opened, pulled her out and told her to walk in our direction as bait. They wanted to see if we were alert or not. They didn’t care if she died or not. When you see this, you understand how much they hate life and their citizens, while we are ready to die so that our citizens can live a normal life."

Dilmoni tells the girl's story to different audiences in Israel and abroad. “In retrospect, I think that it did not surprise me. It surprises me that people don't know who this enemy is, the barbarism, cruelty and evil of Hamas who are willing to sacrifice themselves for the radical Islamic state that they want to rule over in the entire region. They are also willing to sacrifice the Arabs. Let them die, they couldn’t care less."

Shocked reactions are coming from all over the world, but Dilmoni clarifies that this story is not unusual and that these are our neighbors. He tells another story that during the ceasefire that followed the hostage deal, his company met a family that walked towards the soldiers raising white flags. The soldiers were careful not to shoot, but as they came closer, terrorists jumped up from behind them and opened fire. "They didn’t care about killing this family, their main goal was to hurt us."

As part of the activities of the Anerican Friends of Judea and Samaria (AFSI) organization he founded to strengthen the relationship between the friends of Israel in the USA and the State of Israel, Dilmoni will go on a publicity mission in the USA in the coming days, to demonstrate the challenge of the approaching victory in the campaign and at the same time the issue of the exclusive right of the people of Israel to their land, that "only when we are here, it is good for the region and for the United States. This message should be broadcast to the whole world, to all our friends and fans. Israel must not give up an inch of our land, and this starts with education. Everyone must understand that Hebron, Shiloh, Mount Gerizim, Alon Moreh, Itamar, Mount Hebron and the Jordan Valley are ours and this is the cradle of the birth of the Jewish people. When the Jews are here, there is also a good life for the Arabs and Christians who live here, and if extreme Islam rules here, all these things will disappear."