Jerusalem is not interested in an immediate ceasefire with Gaza, a senior government official said Thursday morning, indicating that Israel seeks to deal Hamas a blow so heavy as to ensure the terrorist organization will be unable to resume rocket fire against Israel in the long-term future.
“It is quite possible that Hamas would agree to an immediate ceasefire — we’re hitting them hard, they want the situation to cool down,” the senior official told The Times of Israel, speaking on condition of anonymity. Brokering a ceasefire with Hamas would have been possible a week or a two ago, but an agreement that would leave in place the group’s offensive capacities not what Israel wants, the official said.
“Today, we’re not interested in a Band-Aid. We don’t want to give Hamas just a timeout to rest, regroup and recharge batteries, and then next week or in two weeks they start again to shoot rockets at Israel. Such a quick-fix solution is not something we’re interested in.”
While refusing to discuss concrete steps the Israel Defense Forces plan to take in the coming hours and days, the official said that the government is discussing a ground invasion of Gaza “very seriously.”
The security cabinet was convening Thursday for more discussion.
Asked about Israel’s objectives, the senior official said that Operation Protective Edge’s overriding goal is to “bring peace and quiet to the citizens of Israel.”
The current airstrikes at Gazan targets aim to “deplete and dismantle Hamas’s ability to attack us,” the official said. Because of the “new strategic reality in his region,” Israel needs to make sure that the terrorists’ “ability to replenish and rearm their stockpiles of weapons is more difficult than it was in the past. We’re dulling their sword, and we’re making sure their ability to sharpen that sword again is more difficult.”
The campaign’s second goal is to “reinforce the Israeli power of deterrence,” the official said. “Ultimately, Hamas must understand that it is not in its interest to shoot rockets into Israel.”