Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Sunday at the beginning of the weekly Cabinet meeting, “Operation Protective Edge continues.”
Now in its thirty-third day, Operation Protective Edge was launched by Israel to stop rocket fire upon Israeli cities and destroy Hamas’s terror tunnel infrastructure. While the IDF has said it has dismantled the labyrinth of terror tunnels running from Gaza into Israel, Hamas and other terror groups in the strip continue to pound Israel with rocket fire.
As ceasefire talks are taking place in Cairo, the Israeli delegation has refused to return to the negotiating table as long as the rocket fire continues. Negotiators were called back to Israel on Friday after terrorists renewed their rocket fire on Israel.
“We have not, at any point, said it ended and it will continue until it has achieved its goals. This will take time. Israel will not conduct negotiations under fire and will work to change the reality to return security to its citizens,” Netanyahu stated.
Last week, Israel and Palestinian leaders agreed to a 72-hour Egyptian brokered ceasefire. The Palestinian delegation in Cairo threatened to renew rocket fire on Israel should Israel not give in to their demands. Israel was willing to extend the ceasefire unconditionally but was met with rocket fire hours before the expiration of the ceasefire.
“If Hamas thinks it will exhaust us, it is wrong,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said. “We will not negotiate under fire.”
“We entered negotiations in Cairo and Hamas decided to renew rocket fire on Israel at 6 a.m. Friday. The IDF has hit a number of targets in response,” the defense minister said.
Interior Minister Gidon Sa’ar stressed the importance of dismantling Hamas’s military capabilities.
“It was the right thing to do then, and it’s the right thing to do now,” he said, demanding stronger deterrence against Hamas. He stressed the need for Israel to complete the operation and allow Israelis who reside close to Gaza to return to their homes.
Several polls conducted by Israeli media outlets estimate that some 80 percent of Israelis who reside near Gaza are reluctant to return to their homes. Respondents expressed diminished trust in the IDF and wish to see terrorists in Gaza annihilated once and for all.
“I understand the southern residents who expect quiet and security. As we said when we started the campaign throughout – we will not compromise on anything, and we will continue until we achieve a complete cessation of fire,” Netanyahu said.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman pushed for a greater, sweeping operation in Gaza. “What is left is to defeat Hamas, clean the area and leave as quickly as possible,” he said.
Regarding ceasefire efforts, Liberman stated, “Hamas’s minimal demands are beyond Israel’s maximal position. This situation cannot continue. If my suggestions were taken we would nt have been in this situation.”
Since Friday, dozens of rockets and mortar shells were fired into Israel by terrorists in Gaza.