Operation Protective Edge has not ended, because this is a continuing campaign. Our struggle against the terrorist organizations has continued for many years. Our policy toward Hamas is simple: If they fire, they will be hit very hard.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following statement at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv:
"First, I would like to personally turn to the IDF soldiers and commanders, to the bereaved families who lost their dear ones in Operation Protective Edge, to the wounded who are recovering in hospital, to the residents of communities close to the Gaza Strip, to the residents of the Negev, the greater Tel Aviv area, Jerusalem and the coastal plain, and to all citizens of the State of Israel.
I would like to commend you and to thank you for the steadfastness and extraordinary unity that the citizens and soldiers of Israel have shown during the past weeks. I want you to know that the ultimate responsibility for your security and peace is mine, as Prime Minister. I am concerned for the security and peace of all Israelis, both the sons that we have sent to the front and the families that are strong and determined in the home front.
Our goal is that the residents of Kerem Shalom, Sderot and the other communities in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip, Ashkelon and Tel Aviv will be able to sleep quietly and that the children of Ofakim, Netivot, Ashdod and Be'er Sheva won’t have to run to the protected areas at school.
Along with my colleagues, especially Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon and IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, who is currently attending a memorial ceremony for IDF soldiers, we are taking all measures to complete the campaign and achieve the goals that we set for ourselves: The restoration of quiet and security for you all. We are doing this in full cooperation, with sagacity, responsibility and determination, and thus shall we continue until the goal is achieved.
One consideration stands before me - the good of the State of Israel. And this consideration is the only one that guides my decision-making, as well as that of the Defense Minister and the Chief-of-Staff, no other object, no harsh words from either the Right or the Left, and I condemn all harsh words, and no other interests, only the responsibility for the security and peace of all Israelis. Accordingly, I will continue to act with determination, responsibility and sagacity.
Operation Protective Edge has not ended, not even for a moment, because this is a continuing campaign and I am not speaking only about recent weeks. Our struggle against the terrorist organizations is long and has continued for many years - against Hezbollah, Al-Qaida, Islamic Jihad and Hamas in Gaza, which is part of an Islamic terrorist network the newest member of which is a murderous gang, another terrorist organization, ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and it has also attacked Lebanon.
In recent weeks we have hit Hamas very hard on the battlefield. All of the networks that it built in order to attack us have been foiled.
First of all, we prevented - via Iron Dome - attacks by thousands of rockets against our communities. We have killed hundreds of terrorists. We have destroyed thousands of rockets and launchers. We broke up the network of assault tunnels that Hamas built over the years in order to launch simultaneous attacks against our communities and we foiled all of its attempts to attack us from land, sea and air.
This is the harshest blow that Hamas has taken since it was founded. And I remind you that we have already dismantled its capabilities in Judea and Samaria and blocked its attempts to carry out a coup. We did all this before and during the operation. We have hit Hamas very hard. We are determined to continue the campaign by all means for as long as it takes. We will not stop until we have assured full security and a quiet life for the residents of the south and for all Israelis.
Hamas thinks that it can wear us down. It is mistaken. The Israeli people are strong. Instead of attrition, Hamas will be crushed - its infrastructures, terrorists and commanders.
Our policy toward Hamas is simple: If they fire, they will be hit, and not just hit but hit very hard. And if Hamas does not understand this today, it will understand it tomorrow. And if not tomorrow then the day after tomorrow because in the Middle East, one needs not just military power but stamina and patience.
My grandfather came here in 1920, here to Jaffa. Several months after he came here, thugs burst into the Jewish immigration office in Jaffa and murdered Jews, in this area, including the well-known author Yosef Haim Brenner. This was almost 94 years ago.
Since then we have been fighting against terrorism - with considerable success. In this time we built our state, developed our cities, developed our economy and created a magnificent army.
Our spirit has not fallen, not even for a moment. On the contrary, it has grown, as has our unity, and we must continue to maintain our internal unity, as well as the courage and resilience of the nation and the home front.
All of these are vital components of our national strength. All of these are foundation stones as we fulfill the mission we have set for ourselves - restoring quiet and security, and I would like to add, in light of the very dramatic changes taking place in our region, not all of them negative, I also add achieving a new diplomatic horizon for the State of Israel."
Following are remarks in English by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the press conference:
I hope President Abbas plays a constructive role. He has an opportunity to do so. I think he has to understand obviously that no one, and least of all Israel can accept the kind of terror attacks that are coming from Hamas. I think that were acting well within our rights, probably more rigorously than any, I would say. No other country has acted more rigorously than Israel in defending itself within legitimate means. And I expect President Abbas to do that.
I will look forward to restarting peace negotiations with a Palestinian government committed to peace with Israel, to the end of terror, to fulfilling the previous obligations that we have. And I think this is part and parcel of the larger picture that I'm talking about. We have to think carefully how we tie in the new circumstances to the advantage of peace and against terror.
Hamas is like ISIS. ISIS is like Hamas. They're branches of the same tree. And I can say that the entire world has been shocked by the atrocities of Isis. You saw this, the beheading of an American journalist, Foley. It shows you the barbarism, the savagery of these people. Well, we face the same savagery. The people who wantonly rocket our cities and want to conduct mass killings, and when they can they murder children, teenagers; they shoot them in the head, throw people from the sixth floor - their own people; and use their people as human shields.
Hamas is ISIS; ISIS is Hamas. They're the enemies of peace; they're the enemies of Israel; they're the enemies of all civilized countries. I believe they're the enemies of the Palestinians. And I'm not the only one who believes it.
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