president said Saturday evening that there are indications for an imminent ceasefire
in the Gaza Strip, but heads of southern local authorities believe Israel
must not agree to a truce before dealing Hamas
a severe blow.
"If we've come this far, we must continue," Eshkol Regional Council head Haim Yalin told Ynet on Saturday evening. "We must reach a situation in which we have won, in which terrorism is forced into a peace agreement."
Yalin said he supported a ceasefire only if it meant that the council's residents and children would not be fired on anymore. "But I know my neighbors," he clarified. "Tomorrow they will say that rebel groups cannot be stopped, and the rocket fire will continue."
The Eshkol council head added that "even after 12 years of suffering, we realize that we cannot be the good kids on the block. I hope the operation will lead to a change in the State's perception of the Gaza vicinity's status and of what is happening here."
Ofakim Mayor Tzvika Greengold said, "I told the prime minister, 'I am not a consultant and I don't give advice. All I ask on behalf of the residents of Ofakim is that you get these missiles off our heads.' If this can be achieved with a ceasefire, very well. I just hope they don't reach a premature truce."
Beersheba Mayor Rubik Danilovich added, "I have no intention of going into the national considerations of the State's leaders, and who am I to offer them advice. Nonetheless, the southern council heads and residents would like to remind the Israeli government that the key goal of Operation Pillar of Defense is to stop the rocket fire once and for all. If we fail to do so, it will be a historic missed opportunity.
"It is not every day that we receive wall-to-wall support, as well as a just struggle to restore the State of Israel's deterrence and prevent terrorists from targeting innocent people."
Ashkelon Mayor Benny Vaknin said, "If we return to the same situation we had before the operation, we will be making fools of ourselves, because now we have a situation in which a strong home front in good spirits supports the government, so why go backwards and make the situation worse again?"
Sderot Mayor David Buskila added, "A ceasefire is a guarantee that not a single child in Sderot will have to wake up at night or disrupt his daily life because he is being fired on. If we fail to obtain such a ceasefire, I believe it will be a mistake we will live to regret. If they uphold such a ceasefire, then we welcome it of course."
Waiting for orders outside Gaza (Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Office)
Shaar Hanegev Regional Council head Alon Schuster added that "the hope for calm should not blind us. The mission must be clear – a long-term agreement for a ceasefire which will include tough measures on the ground, preventing the production of terror from Gaza or from any other place like Sinai, etc.
"The moment the agreement guarantees a prevention of terror, the State of Israel must definitely allow Gaza to lead a normal life. I have no expectations that we will manage to destroy Hamas' arsenal, but we have to terminate their desire to use that ammunition."
Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett
presented a more resolved approach: "When missiles are fired on Tel Aviv and Beersheba, you don't talk – you destroy the ability to fire. There is no room for negotiations now. We must tilt the balance immediately and bring Hamas down.
"While the world is watching and examining us, it sees that we are holding talks about a ceasefire while Israel's cities are being fired on. In a neighborhood like the Middle East, this guarantees ongoing missile fire in the near future."
The National Union
party issued the following statement: "Let the IDF win. Ending the operation now will be (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu's
personal failure, which will teach the Islamic world that you can attack Tel Aviv and then receive immunity. He should learn how to eradicate terror, like what was done in Operation Defensive Shield."
Ilana Curiel contributed to this report