Israeli Military Says It ‘Achieved All of Its Objectives’ in Latest Gaza Fighting
An IDF spokesman told Israeli media outlets on Thursday that the military had “achieved all of its objectives quickly and completely” in the latest round of fighting in the Gaza Strip, dealing a “heavy blow” to the Palestinian terrorist group Islamic Jihad.
Israel’s southern region was blanketed by rocket fire from Gaza for two days after the IDF eliminated PIJ commander Baha Abu al-Ata in a targeted killing early Tuesday morning. A ceasefire went into effect early Thursday morning, and was largely holding, save for some sporadic incidents of continued rocket fire.
The Israeli news site Walla quoted IDF Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Hidai Zilberman as saying that the operation, code-named “Black Belt,” had “achieved all of its objectives quickly and completely, and all of this in 48 hours.”
He also revealed that the operation was in the planning stages for “five to six months” and was undertaken when the opportunity presented itself under favorable circumstances. He called al-Ata a “ticking bomb” and “the explosive material on the ground that prevented stability.”
“The purpose of the plan was to improve the security reality, weakening PIJ while isolating Hamas,” he explained. “In this action, we dealt a heavy blow to PIJ and its operational capabilities.”
“During the assaults that were relatively surgical and with a large number of non-combatants, we relied on high intelligence capabilities,” he said, referring to the relatively low number of civilian casualties in Gaza.
“We went for quality and not quantity in the strikes,” Zilberman explained.
He also pointed out that Israel’s air defenses had performed well, saying, “We did everything we knew how to do to protect this country. In the context of the Iron Dome batteries, there was about a 90% success rate.”
Not everyone was as positive as Zilberman. The Israeli news site Mako reported that residents of the southern Israeli city of Netivot were outraged by the rocket fire that followed the announcement of a ceasefire.
Though they had been told by Home Front Command that they could return to their normal routine, air raid sirens sounded early Thursday morning, sending civilians scrambling for shelter.
One of the rockets fell in a kindergarten park, though the warhead did not explode. One father said, “I took a close look at the warhead that fell in the garden entrance and saw that the shell was still inside it.”
He evacuated the students and teacher and then called the police.
Parents were also given confusing instructions, first being told the schools were open and then being called to collect their children due to the security situation.
Shelav Biton, a restaurant owner in the town, said residents were living in “a state of disgrace.”
“After two days of silence, the government says it’s back to normal, and two hours later they’re ruining our daily routine again,” he noted.
Biton asked who would compensate him for lost business and inventory, saying, “A lot of things just got thrown in the garbage.”