Just before the cease-fire agreement that ended eight days of intense fighting between Israel and Hamas went into effect, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a press conference Wednesday, “The government decided to launch [Operation Pillar of Defense] in light of terror attacks from Gaza, which were escalating in intensity and frequency over recent months.”
“I warned that we would respond harshly to these attacks when we chose to. I warned that we would exact a heavy price. The terror organizations assumed that we would not retaliate. They assumed wrong,” Netanyahu said. “We enacted military force in keeping with diplomatic considerations. After a conversation with [U.S. President] Barack Obama I agreed that it would be wise to give a cease-fire a chance.”
Netanyahu was explaining his decision to refrain from launching a ground invasion in Gaza. Thousands of IDF reservists were called up in the last week in preparation for such an invasion, but if the cease-fire continues to hold, the reservists will be sent home without having entered the Strip.
The prime minister was speaking to the press at the Prime Minister’s Office, accompanied by Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
“We hit the top commanders of the terror organizations. We annihilated thousands of rockets aimed at [Israel’s] south and most of the rockets aimed at the center. We destroyed Hamas command centers. All of this was carried out with the full support of leaders in the international community,” Netanyahu said.