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August 4, 2014 2:42 pm
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Israel’s Defense Minister Ya’alon on Gaza Operation: We Set Hamas Back Five Years

avatar by Dave Bender

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, observing a war drill in the Golan Heights. Photo: Kobi Gideon / GPO.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, observing a war drill in the Golan Heights. Photo: Kobi Gideon / GPO.

As Israel pulls back most of its forces from the Gaza Strip, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Monday that as long as terrorists keep firing at Israel, Operation Protective Edge will continue.

Rocket fire and mortar shelling continued throughout the day, despite an Israeli gesture granting a humanitarian “window,” with at least one soldier sustaining minor wounds from mortar shrapnel.

Ya’alon, during a visit to Ashkelon, five kilometers north of Gaza, said that Israel will continue its unilateral actions to strike rocket crews and other targets, and that the IDF’s search-and-destroy operation against terror tunnels is nearing its end.

Monday evening in northern Gaza’s Beit Lahiya area, IDF engineering forces were rigging the 31st tunnel they’ve found for demolition.

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Initial reports say that an Egyptian-brokered 72-hour cease-fire may go into effect Monday night, according to Channel 1 News.

Israeli officials, according to Channel 2 News, however, said they’d only consider an unconditional ceasefire.

Ya’alon praised the resilience of the home front, and said that the public’s forbearance allowed the army to act decisively.

Responding to a remark by Southern Command chief Sammy Tourjeman, who argued that it is impossible to completely remove the tunnel threat, Ya’alon said Israel was “prepared to address this, as we know how to provide against intrusions and against the threat of rockets.”

“Such a response will be given to communities near the fence,” Ya’alon said.

“This threat is complex,” he pointed out, “but what we achieved in this operation took Hamas five years back.”

Ya’alon said the Islamic group “took five years to build this foundation,” and “instead of investing… (building) resources in… construction and agriculture,” they invested in tunnels and rockets.

“This is something that the public will judge,” he said.

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