In his first public appearance since signing off on Operation Breaking Dawn in Gaza earlier today, Prime Minister Yair Lapid says the battle “will take as long as it takes” and that the government has a zero-tolerance policy for any attempted attacks from Gaza toward Israel.
Speaking seconds after Islamic Jihad began firing rockets into Israel, he clarifies that Israel is not interested in a widespread military campaign but is not afraid to engage in one if necessary.
This is the full text of Lapid’s remarks:
“Approximately four hours ago, the Israel Defense Forces — in cooperation with the Israel Security Agency — struck Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza. Among those killed were Taysir al-Jabari, one of the two most senior commanders in Islamic Jihad, as well as a cell preparing to launch an anti-tank missile attack against Israel.
“The directive the security forces received from us was clear: Israel will not sit idly by when there are those who are trying to harm its civilians. This government has a zero-tolerance policy for any attempted attacks — of any kind — from Gaza toward Israeli territory.
“Terrorist organizations will not set the agenda in the area adjacent to Gaza, we will not tolerate any threat against our civilians. I thank Defense Minister Benny Gantz, the IDF and its commanders led by Chief of General Staff, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi, and the ISA led by Ronen Bar, for the quality of their intelligence and for their precise execution.
“At the same time, we won’t accept any ultimatums regarding the operations of the IDF and the security forces, including on other fronts. Everyone who needs to be arrested will be arrested. Any attempt to harm civilians or soldiers will be met with a harsh response.
“Today’s activity in Gaza was against concrete threats which disrupted daily routine in southern Israel. Israel isn’t interested in a wider conflict in Gaza, but will not shy away from one either.
“I call on everyone to obey directives in the coming days. I have faith in the Israeli public, and I’m sure they will give full backing to our security establishment. However long it may take — we will eliminate the threat to our citizens.
“The people of Israel are strong, they understand the importance of deterrence, they stand with the residents of the south. Our security forces are prepared with a set of powerful responses to any attack. We will face the enemy with strength, together.”
Switching to English, Lapid adds: “Israel carried out a precise counter-terror operation against an immediate threat. Our fight is not with the people of Gaza.
“Islamic Jihad is an Iranian proxy that wants to destroy the State of Israel and kill innocent Israelis. The head of Islamic Jihad is in Tehran as we speak.
“We will do whatever it takes to defend our people.”