Despite officials' promises, southern residents remain under fire
IDF chief of staff, GOC Southern Command, prime minister told locals they were safe to return home earlier in the week.
Less than three days ago, the IDF released its forces from Gaza, returned its tanks and APCs up north, as senior officials declared publicly that the calm was restored to the Gaza-border communities. Friday morning the illusion of safety presented to local residents was shattered.
"I am convinced that members of the public who live around Gaza can return to their homes, work their fields, and go back to living their lives as they were," said IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz during the week.
"We have a hot summer. Fall will soon come. The rain will wash away the dust left by the tanks. The fields will turn green, and the south will be awash in red – in the positive sense of the word – in anemones, flowers, and stability, which will be here for many years to come," he said on Tuesday.
GOC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Sami Turgeman also promised residents of southern Israel that the danger had passed. "Residents of the south can feel safe returning to their homes."
Earlier in the week Gantz claimed that the IDF had subdued Hamas. "We have deprived Hamas of its strategic capabilities in terms of rockets, tunnels, command control, and the manufacture and development of weaponry. Hamas has taken a significant hit."
The IDF chief emphasized: "We will not hesitate to activate our forces as necessary to assure the security of our people. Up to now we have passed this campaign in good shape. As there was quiet here in the past, it will be even quieter here after."
But the residents of the south have not seen the promised peace.
On Wednesday, during remarks made to foreign press, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared "the security situation of the area's resident is better and safer than it was before the operation."
"We are in a confusing spot, "said Danny Cohen, a resident of Kibbutz Ein HaShlosha."We were happy to hear what the GOC Southern Command, IDF chief of staff, defense minister and prime minister said to us, that we could return our families home in peace."
"It is clear that we cannot agree that after a month of war, after 64 soldiers are killed and many injured, we would still be fired upon like nothing happened. That's not deterrence."
Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said Thursday on the BBC that if Hamas renews its fire on Israeli towns, Israel would have no choice but to temporarily capture the Strip in order to defeat Hamas and demilitarize the strips of rockets and missiles.