Meeting with local authority heads of southern communities to discuss the Gaza operation, Deputy IDF Chief of Staff Brigadier-General Dan Harel said, "This operation is different from previous ones. We have set a high goal which we are aiming for.
"We are hitting not only terrorists and launchers, but also the whole Hamas government and all its wings." Harel continued to specify, "We are hitting government buildings, production factories, security wings and more.
"We are demanding governmental responsibility from Hamas and are not making distinctions between the various wings. After this operation there will not be one Hamas building left standing in Gaza, and we plan to change the rules of the game.
"The Home Front is automatically the second front in any confrontation," Harel said. "We are helping the local authorities in every way possible, and even if a situation arises in which an authority breaks down during war – we can take over its place."
Council heads meeting with Harel, Golan (photo: Tova Dadon)
The deputy chief of staff said in sum, "We are just at the beginning of the battle, this will not be hasty. The worst is not behind us – it is still ahead of us, and we should be prepared for this. Our resilience will be determine by the functioning of the authority and the way the civilians are protected."
Almost all local and regional council heads from Ashdod in the north to Ofakim in the south attended a meeting with Home Front Command Chief Yair Golan at the emergency headquarters in Kiryat Gat, to voice difficulties they faced in treating the citizens.
Brigadier General Harel was also present at the meeting.
"Open the public bomb shelters, freshen them up and remove squatters by injunction," Golan told the local authorities' heads.
A serious problem faced by authority heads is the lack of fortification in educational institutes, that are supposed to reopen a week after the Hanukkah holidays. This problem stands out particularly among the ultra-Orthodox sector.
Ashdod Mayor Yehiel Lasri said many ultra-Orthodox institutes in his city were set up in temporary buildings and it would be impossible to keep so many out of school.
Lasri was told in response that only cities in a 20km to 30km range from Gaza would be ordered to keep educational institutes closed. The rest would have to find alternative solutions, such as moving to concrete buildings or holding classes in "shifts".
The Home Front Command is investing NIS 3.5 million ($910,000) in fortifying the caravilla site inhabited by Gush Katif evacuees in Nitzan.
A further investment will be made in fortifying caravan sites in other communities in the rocket range.