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Sunday, July 20, 2014
PM Netanyahu's Statement at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv

[Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA: These remarks were followed by remarks by Defense
Minister Yaalon.

One note about the difference in their remarks: while PM Netanyahu seemed to
talk about what was already achieved ("Regarding the tunnels, the current
operation has significantly damaged Hamas's underground offensive capability
against the State of Israel.")e the DM indicated that 2-3 days of work on
the tunnels would be needed get the job done.

The DM's remarks are included in the PM's YouTube video
http://youtu.be/IGF3Uf1EKQ0?list=UU4XJnRPZjXhgvVMhXKNSJvQ


These opening remarks were followed by the most interesting Q&A session I
have ever heard in Israel. The questions were top quality and the answers
had a depth that reflected both that there was a lot of thinking behind the
explanations being offered and also a desire to have the audience understand
and appreciate the answers. Unfortunately, the Israeli TV stations covering
the press conference broke away in the middle of the press conference and
the press release below only covers the opening remarks. Hopefully a follow
up press release will include the rest of the transcript. Or at least it
will be uploaded to the YouTube.]

PM Netanyahu's Statement at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv
(Communicated by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this evening (Sunday, 20 July 2014), at
the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, issued the following statement:

"The heart of the entire nation is with the families of the fallen. We feel
your pain. We bow our head to your sons who fell so that we can continue
living here. On behalf of the Government and the entire People of Israel, I
would like to express the deep pain that we feel. We send our condolences to
the parents, children, spouses and families of the IDF soldiers who have
fallen in defense of the State of Israel.

I would like to say to you that there is no war more just than that in which
your sons and ours heroically fell. We will complete the mission that we
have begun. We will restore quiet and security to the south, the center and
the entire country.

On behalf of all of you, citizens of Israel, I would like to send best
wishes for a quick recovery to all the wounded soldiers. I believe that each
one of us knows someone who is participating in the campaign, and mutual
guarantee is also the secret of our strength. We must be strong in difficult
days such as today as well as those that are likely to come. We are in a war
for our home. Our forces are currently active in the field; they are
operating professionally, with determination, great strength, great
firepower and great strength of spirit.

Soldiers of the IDF, I would like to tell you that the citizens of Israel
are behind you and are praying for your welfare.

To the dear families, I would like to say that I am aware of your concern,
we all share it. We are doing our utmost to secure the lives of our citizens
and of our soldiers.

Israel did not choose to enter this campaign but from the moment it was
forced on us, we will carry it out to achieve the goal of restoring quiet to
Israel's citizens for a prolonged period while inflicting a significant blow
on the infrastructures of Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in
Gaza. We are not deterred and we will continue to act as necessary. The
current operation is necessary to for the security of Israel's citizens.

More tunnels were discovered during last night's action, tunnels that are
added to the many others we have found, some of which had already reached
Israeli territory. Hamas invested years of work and vast capital in them in
order to perpetrate large-scale terrorist attacks and carry out abductions.
We found handcuffs and sedatives. There is no question here. This was a
strategic network for Hamas in which it had installed fortifications,
electricity, cables, all in order to infiltrate, carry out large-scale
attacks and kidnap.

The threat of the tunnels is not new to us. We have foiled several attempts
in the past to perpetrate attacks through them, but the current operation is
much broader in scope. This carries considerable risks but it is vital
because if these tunnels had not been discovered, the results could have
been much worse. Tunnels like those we have exposed recently could have been
opened in our communities, inside kindergartens or dining halls and the
results could have been deadly.

This indeed was Hamas' plan, and we are acting against it. Just as I said at
the outset of our operation against the tunnels, there is no guarantee of
100% success, but we are doing our utmost to attain the maximum, and I must
say that the results that IDF soldiers have achieved thus far in the field
are above predictions and beyond expectations.

In the days before we commenced ground action, we were engaged in building
the diplomatic and military infrastructure for it and we did this in several
areas simultaneously. First of all, we acceded to the Egyptian proposal for
a ceasefire and also to two additional proposals, the UN proposal for a
humanitarian ceasefire and the Red Cross ceasefire. These measures, along
with the personal talks we held with many world leaders, built the
diplomatic infrastructure thanks to which we are currently receiving
international credit for the operation. This can never be taken for granted;
it must be invested in.

We have received the recognition of the United States, Canada, Great
Britain, Germany, France and many other important countries of Israel's
right to defend itself and of our right to restore quiet and security to our
communities and our citizens. A short time ago, I spoke again with US
President Barack Obama and I thanked him for America's support of Israel at
this time.

Given our acceptance of the ceasefire, it cannot be claimed that it is
Israel which has chosen escalation; therefore, it is Hamas that is
responsible for the results of its aggression. We are making every effort
not to harm the residents of Gaza, whereas Hamas is making effort so that
the residents of Gaza are harmed. We regret every injury to innocents but
insofar as they are harmed, Hamas and Hamas alone is to blame.

Hamas built two strategic networks to attack the State of Israel: Rockets
and tunnels. The IDF has significantly struck at both. IDF action, both
defensive and offensive, has neutralized the effectiveness of the rockets.
Hamas thought that by means of this network it could break our home front,
and of course Iron Dome has intercepted most of the rockets it has fired at
our cities. We have invested considerable capital in it and it is proving
itself.

Also, the air force has attacked and is attacking; it has destroyed missile
launchers and many rocket production facilities in the Gaza Strip. Of
course, the IDF is still carrying out this mission. Regarding the tunnels,
the current operation has significantly damaged Hamas's underground
offensive capability against the State of Israel.

I would like to express deep appreciation to all soldiers and commanders
taking part in the fighting, including the reservists who have left family
and home behind and joined the campaign. I would like to express special
appreciation for IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz who is leading the
IDF. He asked just now to be with the men in the south, and the Defense
Minister and I of course let him. We wish him, and the commanders and
soldiers of the IDF, all of the success which we know the people of Israel
need.

Along with the Chief-of-Staff and the Defense Minister, we are working
together for the same goal and purpose. We are working shoulder-to-shoulder,
according to an orderly and methodical plan, in the current battle against
terrorism, which is part of our historic campaign against the terrorism that
has been trying to attack us since the establishment of the state. In every
battle and in every campaign, there are complex and difficult events, as
there have been in this one; however, the military operation is proceeding
as planned and it will be expanded as necessary until quiet returns to
Israel's citizens.

At the outset we knew, and I also said, that this could be a long campaign
but from the history of our people we know a simple truth the eternal
people do not fear a long road. We are proud of our heroic soldiers. With
the Almighty's help, and theirs, we will succeed."

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