(Communicated by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Tuesday, 12 November 2013) visited the IDF Gaza Division, to mark one year since Operation Pillar of Defense
. During the visit, he received security briefings from Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, Deputy IDF Chief-of-Staff Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and GOC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Shlomo Turgeman.
At the start of the visit, Prime Minister Netanyahu said:
"We are marking one year since Operation Pillar of Defense. The numbers are sharp. There has been a 98% decline in high-trajectory firing
. It seems that most of the firing has been ineffective; there have been 35 instances. There is no doubt that significant deterrence has been achieved.
However, we are not deluding ourselves. We know that Hamas and the other terrorist organizations are continuing to arm themselves in various ways. They are also trying to develop the underground track, i.e. tunnels
, and we are called upon to find a response to all of these threats and, at the same time, continue the strong deterrence that we have achieved and which we are maintaining.
In the end, this deterrence is achieved by the enemy's knowing that we will not tolerate attacks on our communities and our soldiers, and that we will respond in great strength. This is the foundation of our deterrence. The means serve this sense and this policy but this is the foundation of deterrence.
At the same time, we have worked to close the Sinai border. There, Israel is, in effect, the first country that has succeeded to a large degree, one might say even to an absolute degree, in closing its borders. In the past three months there have been no entries into the State of Israel. This is a very major success on the part of the Government, the IDF and the other intelligence systems that have been established along this barrier.
These two matters – the war against terrorism, including the continuing deterrence and finding answers to new threats, alongside guarding our borders, are among the principal missions that we are committed to carrying out, and not just in this sector."
At the conclusion of his visit, the Prime Minister said:
"Hamas is manufacturing and storing missiles and rockets that are concentrated in residential buildings and aimed at Israeli citizens. Israel will continue to strictly uphold international law but will not sit on its hands in the face of terrorists who perpetrate two war crimes at the same time: They are prepared to fire at Israeli cities and are hiding behind civilians in the Gaza Strip.
It is our full legal and moral right to direct fire – that is as precise as possible – at those who fire indiscriminately at our people. The responsibility for any collateral damage that is liable to be caused to the residents of Gaza lies squarely on Hamas's shoulders. I would like to express my appreciation and that of the nation to the IDF and the security forces in the sector."