Defense Minister Benny Gantz speaks after Prime Minister Netanyahu at the Kirya in Tel Aviv, and similarly hails the Gaza operation, saying Israel’s military operations “surprised” the Hamas terror group with their intensity. “The job is done, but not completed,” he says of the challenge posed by Hamas in Gaza.
“We achieved all our operational goals,” he says, and “set back the enemy by years.” Hamas “deeply regrets what it chose to do” by initiating this conflict. The military response, he says, had been prepared over months and years. And the Israeli homefront proved “as strong as steel.”
But now that “the military stage is over, it is time for diplomatic action.”
“On the rubble of the homes of the Hamas leaders and of over 100 kilometers of terror tunnels, we must build a new reality,” he says. That “does not mean hasty deals, but long-term processes that will weaken the extremists and strengthen and bring together moderates… There is a chance for peace,” he says. “We must condition development and reconstruction [in Gaza] not only on calm,” but also on the return of soldiers’ bodies and civilians held hostage in Gaza, and on new moves to create “hope, growth and moderation.
“If we don’t act diplomatically, quickly and wisely,” he says, this operation will go down as “simply another round of conflict to be followed by the next one.”
He calls on Netanyahu to not “turn an unprecedented military victory into, heaven forbid, a diplomatic missed opportunity,” saying the matter of the Strip should be strategically and diplomatically dealt with for the long-term.
He says Israeli citizens, especially in the south, deserve calm. And calm, too, he says, is in the interests of the residents of Gaza — “a calm that can yield productive work instead of rocket factories,” a calm to replace the hatred and hostility their leaders nurture. Their leaders hold Gazans hostage, “in poverty and hopelessness,” he says. “It would be good for them to have modern health care, water and sewage infrastructure, and hospitals that do not serve as refuges for terrorists and stores for rockets.”
Regarding the Jewish-Arab unrest in many mixed cities, Gantz offers a message of coexistence, saying education on accepting the “other” needs to strengthen.