After a punishing 50-day campaign in Gaza, Hamas has retained only 20 percent of its rocket arsenal, totaling roughly 2,000 projectiles, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Monday at Bar Ilan University.
The organization lost 40 senior operatives, Ya’alon said, along with 10 Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders.
Predominantly, however, Ya’alon contended that Operation Protective Edge – in which 72 Israelis and over 2,000 Palestinians, mostly militants, were killed – established a deterrence that will show its worth over time.
“I’m familiar with the longing for the Six Day War, and again and again I remind [you]: the undeniably glowing military victory did not bring quiet for but a limited amount of time,” he said, referencing the border skirmishes in the Jordan Valley that began shortly after the war and the onset of the War of Attrition in the Sinai.
“The nature of the achievement of Operation Protective Edge will be tested by time,” he said, adding that there is ample reason to believe that Israel and Egypt, the only countries bordering the Gaza Strip, can help stop Hamas’ re-armament.
“I hope that the future proves that this operation attained a long period of quiet and deterrence not merely vis-à-vis Gaza, but in the entire region,” he said.
Addressing charges leveled at him and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – namely that both charted a policy that failed to adequately harm Hamas and that Israel failed to attain a decisive victory – Ya’alon said that “we navigated the operation according to our compass and not the weather vane that was heated from outside.”
As for victory, he added, “a decision, from my perspective, is to bring the other side to a ceasefire in accordance with your conditions.”
On Sunday, in a conference focused on the tunnel threat, which proved to be a central component of Hamas’ battle plans during the operation, drawing Israel into a ground war, the former OC Southern Command, Maj. Gen. (res) Tal Russo, said that Israel “made no shortage of mistakes” in addressing the subterranean threat prior to the operation, but stated that “there are one hundred opinions on the matter and everyone is certain that they’re right.”
Speaking at The Institute for Policy and Strategy at the IDC Herzliya, Russo said that Hamas workers, “from Operation Protective Edge and till today, are pulling bodies out of the tunnels; there is the stench of death.”
The central goal for Israel in combating the tunnel threat, he added, does not so much revolve around “the perfect solution” — a technology that can detect all underground digging — but rather how “to turn them into death traps.”