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September 29, 2014 12:00 pm

Yaalon: Hamas Missile Arsenal Depleted by 80%, Group in Strategic Crisis (VIDEO)

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Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon. Photo: Reuven Kapuscinski.

“Israel does not fear a 50-day war of attrition,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said on Sunday, adding that Hamas had depleted four fifths of its rocket and mortar arsenal during the 50-day-long Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, and was hit hard, Israel’s Channel 2 News reported.

Ya’alon was speaking at a public conference held at the BESA Center at Tel Aviv University, summing up the “Military and Political Lessons” of the complex operation, meant to halt both incessant rocket fire, as well as find and destroy dozens of attack tunnels dug under Israeli territory.

The operation ended on Aug. 26th in an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire, indirectly reached with the Islamist terror group.

“This operation will give us quiet for a long time,” Ya’alon said, adding that the Israeli public “displayed its resilience” while under fire from well over 4,000 rockets and projectiles which hit nearly every area of southern and central Israel, including Tel Aviv and the greater Gush Dan region, south of Haifa, Jerusalem and the vicinity, all of the Negev, and even Jewish and Palestinian areas in both Judea and Samaria.

Sixty-six Israeli soldiers, five Israeli civilians and a Thai national were killed, and some 470 soldiers and over 800 civilians were wounded in the fighting, according to Israel. Palestinian Health Ministry sources claimed between 2,000 and more than 2,100 Gazans were killed and over 10,000 wounded including fighters.

Ya’alon, in the face of charges that the security echelon he heads was unprepared and unaware of the extent of the rocket arsenal and attack tunnels Israel faced, said that “The security cabinet met several times and held many sessions over the Strip, and was not ‘surprised’ by the situation, nor by the tunnel threat.”

Pointing out that only four attack tunnels were known about before 28 others were discovered during fighting, running into Israel, “we thought that if the cease-fire (one of seven) held, we’d devise a way to deal with the tunnels from our side of the border – without inserting troops [into Gaza], or that, during discussions, we’d come to an agreement on their destruction.”

However, “even as we agreed to the Egyptian initiative, we received indications that [Hamas] would refuse, so we prepared for a ground operation to deal with the tunnels,” Ya’alon said.

“Not only the IDF, but Israeli society passed the test,” Ya’alon said. “The public’s resilience is an important factor,” Ya’alon said, adding that the populace “displayed an impressive ability to withstand trials.”

Watch an IDF video summary of one week of the conflict:

[iframe width=”640″ height=”360″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/sBknEk4GfoA” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>]

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