Shortly before the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas went into effect at 9 pm Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters in Jerusalem that the government decided to launch Operation Pillar of Defense "following terror attacks from Gaza, which occurred with growing frequency over the past few months.
"I announced that we would respond forcefully to these attacks (…) and exact a heavy toll from the terror organizations. The terror groups assumed that we would avoid such an operation. They were wrong," he said.
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The PM said that during the operation the IDF hit the terror groups' top commanders and destroyed "thousands of rockets that were aimed at Israel and most of those that were aimed at central (Israel).
"I wish to thank (US) President (Barack) Obama for his unwavering support for Israel and its right to defend itself," Netanyahu told the press conference.
PM, FM in press conference (Photo:Ohad Zwigenberg)
The Israeli leader said he and Obama agreed to cooperate against the smuggling of weapons to the terror organizations, "weapons that arrive mostly from Iran."
Netanyahu added: "I realize that there are citizens who expect and even harsher military operation and we may need (to launch such an operation), but at this time the right thing to do for the State of Israel is to exhaust this opportunity for a lasting ceasefire.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the press conference that all the goals that were set for Operation Pillar of Defense have been met. "Hamas and the (Islamic) Jihad received a painful blow," he said.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also took part in the press conference and said that he believes the Gaza operation "was managed in a coordinated manner," adding that "everyone who saw what went down knows that we did an excellent job. All other claims are fairytales."
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