IDF officer: Destroying Hamas gov’t was not army’s goal

Introduction — August 4, 2014

Overturned bus in Jerusalem after being tipped over by Palestinian construction worker. Click to enlarge

Overturned bus in Jerusalem after being tipped over by Palestinian construction worker. Click to enlarge

The conflict between Hamas and the IDF shifted briefly on Monday, from Gaza to Jerusalem.
According to Reuters, a Palestinian construction worker drove a construction vehicle into a pedestrian before driving into a bus in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood in the city.
He then flipped the empty bus on its side before he was shot dead by police officers.
Hours later an Israeli soldier was hot in the stomach and seriously wounded by a lone gunman who then jumped on a waiting motorcycle and sped away.
Police have classified both incidents as “terrorist attacks”.
If the IDF”s plan was to sow terror among Palestinian civilians they certainly succeeded. However as the following indicates Israel’s current military operation in Gaza maybe far from over.
At a press briefing yesterday a senior officer from the Israeli Defense Forces’ General Staff revealed that further options are being considered. Although the original objective behind Operation Protective Edge wasn’t the destruction of Hamas these further options may include a partial withdrawal from Gaza, leaving elements of the IDF behind on a semi-permanent basis.

IDF officer: Destroying Hamas gov’t was not army’s goal

Gili Cohen — Haaretz August 4, 2014

Operation Protective Edge has created “significant deterrence” against Hamas and could result in “a fundamental change in the security situation” near the Gaza Strip, a senior officer on the Israel Defense Forces’ General Staff said yesterday.

“The security situation [in communities] near Gaza will be much better on the morning after,” the officer said at a briefing for journalists yesterday. “There’s potential here to effect a fundamental change, which stems from the size of the blow [dealt Hamas], as well as from our ties with Egypt.”

The officer said the IDF expected to finish destroying all known Hamas tunnels within the next 24 hours, after which the government would decide whether to pull out the troops or leave them in the area.

A few options for further military activity are being considered, and the IDF is currently building protective areas inside the Strip, a few hundred meters from the border with Israel, in preparation for the possibility that troops might be ordered to stay.

The officer added that Hamas suffered significant damage during the IDF operation and is interested in ending the war, “but not with zero achievements from its standpoint.” The coming days will determine how the fighting will end, he said.

He stressed that Israel doesn’t want to destroy the Hamas government, because it “has an interest in having an ‘address’ in the Gaza Strip. The Somalia scenario, in which a state deteriorates into subgroups, can happen, but we don’t want it to happen.”

If Israel did want to decisively defeat Hamas, he added, the army would need seven to 10 days to reoccupy all of Gaza, then another year or two to “destroy the terrorist infrastructure.” But “that isn’t the task the IDF was given, and rightly so,” he said.

Continues … 

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