Defense Minister Amir Peretz told journalists just a few hours after the rocket attack on Haifa, which left eight Israelis dead, that "there is no intention of ending the campaign before the reality changes in Lebanon."
"The moral code of the Israeli nation does not allow us to harm civilians. With that, the IDF will operate using all means at its disposal, against every source of rocket fire, to defeat the operation against the citizens of Israel," he added.
Defense minister in press conference (Photo: Niv Calderon)
“Hizbullah is very surprised,” he said. “We had the audacity to strike Hizbullah’s most sensitive center. They are surprised by the resilience of the Home Front; they are surprised because they do not hear the Israeli public panicking and calling on its government to call off the operation in Lebanon. On the contrary, Hizbullah sees before it a united country, and it is vital that this resilience continues because it will determine the outcome of the entire war.”
Peretz stressed that while the army would operate in adherence to its moral code, it had lifted all restrictions on strikes.
"We plan to act in accordance with the message we will get from the Israeli public. If the war has started – finish it in a way that will change the reality. I plan to do my best to see the situation changes and the Israeli home front no longer has to face such provocative threats," the defense minister stated.
"The city of Haifa sustained a serious blow," Peretz said, referring to Sunday morning's events. "The town is tending to its wounds. Eight workers who came to do their job, innocent people, were killed, and the wounded who are now fighting for their lives – this is a terrible blow."
'Reality on border must change'
"I want to turn to the people of Haifa and tell them that the war in the northern front is not only against Hizbullah. Hamas is testing our resilience, as are the organizations in the West Bank… I am proud of the residents of the north and of the expressions of solidarity here. This determination will help us win this battle. This will decide Israel's future," Peretz declared.
"We do not plan to end this war before reality is transformed," the minister vowed. "We will change the situation as I have stated – the terrorists will no longer be sitting on Israel's northern border. They will not be allowed to continue to purchase arms and missiles. We will no longer turn a blind eye to the axis of evil and terror," Peretz stated.
Commenting on the Lebanese government, he said: "Sovereignty means responsibility. Those unable to rein in operations that take place inside their territory should not blame Israel for its actions."
Police Northern District chief, Major-General Dan Ronen, also addressed the press, saying: "The missiles that landed in Haifa are very different than the ones fired on other areas. They are 220-mm in diameter, with tens of kilograms of explosives and ball bearings, which are the main problem."
Police Chief Moshe Karadi said that "since Wednesday, when the Israeli government ordered the IDF operation in Lebanon, police realized that the home front would also face the security situation". The Haifa area was reinforced with police forces in order to allow citizens to continue with their daily lives.
"The price that the nation and the city of Haifa have paid this morning is very heavy; that raises the cooperation to its highest point and brings to the forefront the Home Front command and the police," said Karadi.
Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav said that "the city of Haifa is on its highest readiness and alert level. In the past year the emergency system was exercised in both scope and substance. There is great cooperation between the three forces – the police, the Home Front Command, and the Haifa Municipality. This cooperation inspires security. We instructed the residents to stay in protected, secure areas and last night we received instructions from the Home Front Command to cancel all summer camps."