Wednesday, June 29th | 30 Sivan 5782

July 23, 2014 12:31 am

Senior IDF Commander: Israeli Forces Have Reached Everywhere in Gaza

avatar by Dave Bender

IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz in the field. Photo: IDF.

In the 15th day of Operation Protective Edge to foil tunneling and rocket fire into Israel from Gaza, the army boasted that its forces have put a major dent in Hamas’ war-making abilities.

“Our successes are greater than what we’d hoped for,” a senior officer told the Israeli Ma’ariv daily on Tuesday, “and our mission to hit Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists, are, all in all, showing very good results.”

In a statement released Tuesday, the IDF said it had “targeted over 1,800 terror sites,” including “military posts, concealed rocket launchers, weapon manufacturing facilities and military command centers. IDF soldiers uncovered thus far approximately 30 offensive tunnels and 66 access points.”

The officer cautioned, however, that, “the more successes we have against the tunnels, the more the enemy tries to exploit resources it has built up over years.”

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Bruised and bleeding from the loss of 27 soldiers and officers, and dozens of others wounded in fierce fighting, and trying to thwart continued rocket fire into central and southern Israel, the Israeli Defense Forces are eager to rally both the troops and public.

“Everywhere we wanted to get to, we got to,” the senior officer told Ma’ariv. “Even places where the fighting and clashes were hard didn’t stop us from getting everywhere we needed to get.”

The officer said the opening of the operation, in his words, surprised the enemy, in its timing, breadth of targets, areas within Gaza that were covered, and range of freedom of movement for IDF troops.

The army said that “2,160 rockets have been fired at Israel since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, 420 of them were intercepted and some 1,700 hit Israel.” On Tuesday, at least  “87 rockets were fired at Israel, 18 of them intercepted and 67 hit Israel,” the army said.

Hamas’ fighters have adapted to the IDF’s tactics.

“And so,” he pointed out, “in the first few days there was little friction (with Israeli forces), but the more the enemy learned how the operation was developing, the more the direct clashes increased in intensity and scope.”

Hamas, in his words, was intent on perpetrating a “quality attack,” with great symbolic value, including the use of the tunnels, just as the IDF exposed and began destroying them.

“Our chief effort was in defense, and we understood that the enemy was trying to strike us from the air, sea and underground,” at the beginning of the operation, including heavy rocket fire into Israel, seaborne commando raids onto Israeli beaches adjacent to Gaza, and then, subterranean assault squads that tried to strike at communities east of the Gaza Strip.

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