In his first public appearance since signing Operation Breaking Dawn in Gaza earlier today, Prime Minister Yair Lapid said the battle “will take as long as it takes” and that the government has a policy of zero tolerance for any attempted attack from Gaza towards Israel.
Speaking seconds after Islamic Jihad began firing rockets into Israel, he clarified that Israel is not interested in a full-scale military campaign but is not afraid to engage in one if necessary.
Here is the full text of Lapid’s remarks:
“About 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 of Islamic Jihad, as well as a cell preparing to launch an anti-tank missile attack on Israel.
“The directive the security forces received from us was clear: Israel will not stand idly by when some attempt to harm its civilians. This government has a policy of zero tolerance for any attempted attack – of any kind – from Gaza into Israeli territory.
“Terrorist organizations will not set the agenda in the area adjacent to Gaza, we will not tolerate any threats against our civilians. I thank Defense Minister Benny Gantz, the Israeli army and its commanders led by the Chief of the 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 will not accept any ultimatum regarding IDF and security force operations, including on other fronts. Anyone who needs to be stopped will be stopped. Any attempt to harm civilians or soldiers will be met with a severe response.
“Today’s activity in Gaza was against concrete threats that disrupted the daily routine in southern Israel. Israel is not interested in a broader conflict in Gaza, but will not shy away from it either.
“I call on everyone to obey the guidelines in the coming days. I have confidence in the Israeli public, and I am sure they will give their full support to our security establishment. No matter how long it takes , we will eliminate the threat to our citizens.
“The people of Israel are strong, they understand the importance of deterrence, they stand with the people 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 conducted a precise counterterrorism 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.”