Israel already had plans ready to fully reoccupy Gaza if Egypt failed to broker a ceasefire and Hamas continued firing rockets, a senior Israeli minister has revealed.
Reports say that shortly before the announcement of the truce deal yesterday afternoon, the inner security cabinet was briefed by the leadership of the Israeli military on the next steps if the Cairo ceasefire talks failed.
Yuval Steinitz, Israel's minister of intelligence, international relations and strategic affairs, said that the only thing he can say is that full military reoccupation of Gaza was seriously considered.
“If Hamas would insist on continuing the rocket firing into Israel for another few weeks, or a few months, I assume that this would be the only alternative," he added in an interview with BBC”s HardTalk programme.
The ceasefire, which took effect yesterday afternoon, was brokered by Egypt and brought to an end 50 days of fierce fighting in which around 2,200 Palestinians were killed, nearly 400 of them children.
After the announcement of the long-term truce, Steinitz said that deal left a sour taste in the mouth.
Despite the truce, the Israeli minister said reoccupying Gaza could still happen, “If Hamas would resume the fire and leave us with no other option (than reoccupying it).”
These are the first official Israeli remarks on the Cairo-brokered truce that Hamas considers a victory.
The Israeli minister believes his government has paid very heavy price to achieve its goals of this war.
“We have paid a very expensive price with 70 casualties on our side, with people that have to flee their homes in the south of Israel because of the daily barrages of rockets and mortars,” Steinitz said, adding that his government's main purpose is “to protect our people, our citizens.”
However, he rejected the idea that the Israeli war on Gaza was a strategic failure.
Hamas and other resistance factions in Gaza consider the ceasefire a significant victory for the Palestinian people.
Steinitz said that Hamas brought only misery and suffering to both sides, “Without any significant cause, without any significant effect.”
“For 50 days now we were under daily rocket attacks and mortar attacks from Gaza — an area that was supposed to be totally demilitarised by the Palestinian Authority. And actually for nothing. This was an unnecessary round of violence between us and the Palestinians, Hamas in Gaza,” Steinitz concluded.