The war in Gaza is not over 

Source: The war in Gaza is not over – Israel Hayom

Minister Yoav Gallant

Exactly a decade ago, on Dec. 27, 2008, Hamas staged ‎a show of power in the Gaza Strip, parading hundreds ‎of terrorists in Gaza City. A surprised Israeli ‎airstrike, which fired five missiles on them, killed ‎about 90 terrorists, triggering the beginning of ‎Operation Cast Lead, which saw Israel strike all ‎Hamas headquarters in Gaza, as well as its rocket ‎launching systems and hundreds of terrorist assets ‎and sites.‎

On the Israeli side, ground, air and naval troops ‎fought for three weeks with aim of eradicating key ‎terrorist hubs across the Gaza Strip.‎

The operation was launched following three years ‎during which some 10,000 rockets and mortar shells ‎were fired on Israel’s south and dozens of terrorist ‎attacks were carried out nationwide. ‎

The IDF’s Southern Command was tasked with attacking ‎terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, ‎inflicting significant damage to Hamas and ‎bolstering Israeli deterrence, and this mission was ‎accomplished in full: More than 700 terrorists were ‎eliminated and all Hamas headquarters were ‎destroyed. ‎

As the commander of the operation, I recommended to ‎my superiors that Israel should make the most of ‎this success and expand the campaign by allowing ‎Southern Command forces to seize control of Gaza ‎City bring Hamas to its knees by either eliminating ‎terrorist or capturing them. My recommendation was ‎denied. ‎

The main factors that rendered Operation Cast Lead ‎successful were careful and secret preparation, ‎operational integration within the IDF, cooperation ‎between the military and Shin Bet security agency, ‎the force demonstrated by the troops on the ground, ‎quality intelligence, accurate aerial strikes, ‎operational and logistical continuity and a ‎resilient homefront.‎

But above all, it was IDF fighters and commanders, ‎who acted with determination, dedication and ‎professionalism, and courageously carried out their ‎missions. Ten soldiers and three civilians were ‎killed in the operation and we all owe them a great ‎debt of gratitude.‎

A decade later, everyone recognizes the important ‎contribution Operation Cast Lead had to the south’s ‎security, as it dealt Hamas a crippling blow. We may ‎still have that advantage, but the war for our home ‎is not over. ‎

In recent years, Hamas’ terrorist routes have been ‎shuttered, one by one, via restrictions on land ‎movement, a maritime blockade, counter-tunnel ‎warfare and the effective protection provided by the ‎Iron Dome air defense system. Operation Cast Lead ‎and the reality that followed on the ground have ‎forced Hamas to rethink its strategy.‎

The balance of power between the IDF and Hamas is ‎‎1,000 to 1, meaning that in any future ‎confrontation, Israel will overcome Hamas. In view ‎of the numerous security challenges Israel faces, it ‎is our duty to act responsibly and discreetly. ‎

Knowing the enemy Israel is preparing for future ‎campaigns, but if we are forced into battle, we will ‎be the ones to determine its timing. ‎

We are a peace-loving nation but at this time, we ‎cannot afford to lay down our sword. We remain ‎vigilant and ready to defend ourselves, on every ‎front, at all times.‎

Yoav Gallant is the construction and housing minister.

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