Photo: Motti Kimchi
GOC Southern Command Sami Turgeman.
Photo: Motti Kimchi

IDF commander in south: We cannot defeat Hamas in just one month

Major General Sami Turgeman voices concerns about Gaza ahead of stepping down from position, says there is currently no replacement for Hamas to lead Gaza.

GOC Southern Command Major General Sami Turgeman made sure to say what he really thinks about the Gaza conflict before stepping down from his position.



In a meeting Monday with authority heads from all over Israel at Kibbutz Nahal Oz in the south, Turgeman said that it would not be possible to defeat Hamas with a one month long operation – such as the most recent Operation Protective Edge.


GOC Southern Command Sami Turgeman. (Photo: Motti Kimchi) (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
GOC Southern Command Sami Turgeman. (Photo: Motti Kimchi)


"Gaza has an independent authority that functions like a country; there is a government and an annual plan, with executive bodies and inspection authorities. Within the country there is a ruler that is called Hamas which knows how to exercise power over the other authorities. As of now, there is no substitute ruler to replace Hamas in the strip" said Turgeman.


Turgeman noted that "the only replacement for Hamas is the IDF and authoritarian chaos. Other than Hamas there is no other axis that could control, (while) the (Palestinian) Authority cannot rule and this should be taken as an indisputable statement.


Hamas operatives in Gaza tunnel. (Photo: Reuters) (Photo: Reuters)
Hamas operatives in Gaza tunnel. (Photo: Reuters)


"There are additional terror organizations in the strip and the campaign against them continues, and in between the fighting and the 'rounds' there are periods of silence. But its not bang and we're done. Most of the citizens in the strip see Hamas as the only solution to there problems. Whoever thinks there could be a national uprising – it doesn't look likely. The chances it could happen are not high."


The major general, who will be stepping down from his position in two months, stressed that since Israel disengaged from Gaza in 2005 the strategy has been prevention and aversion.


"We have no goal that we want to achieve there," said Turgeman. "The only goals are prevention, to prevent chaos and a humanitarian crisis. Therefore, it's not possible to take actions that are against the strategy and this is the state's position."


Turgeman said that Hamas is also interested in quiet, but at the same time urges military buildup.


"Whoever thinks that the struggle between us is just a military one does not understand the issue. Hamas does everything in order to exhaust our society - that is part of their success. Hamas did everything in order to entangle us into using force against them in order to affect the next war.


"If Hamas was surprised by anything during Operation Protective Edge it was that we used aggressive force, more than they expected, because the likes of the Goldstone Report gave them a sense of security," said Turgeman.


When it comes to finding a solution, Turgeman says that "you have to choose from the various alternatives."


"In my opinion, periods of quiet must be created as much as possible with the knowledge that once in a while there will be a confrontation, and we shouldn't be surprised that once every few years it will happen.


"I hope that after Operation Protective Edge the quiet will last a long time, but we must understand the country's alternatives. What this implies is that this is the reality we chose, if this is the policy, than you cannot expect that we'll go out for these types of operations and expect to defeat Hamas," says Turgeman.


Reflecting on last summer's confrontation, Turgeman noted that "Hamas infiltrated 45 terrorists into Israeli territory. Part of these forces' mission was to hurt anyone, soldier or civilian - (it) doesn't matter. That didn't happen because of our defense in the field. It's a big challenge, because there are towns on the fence and next to the fence.


I went into this operation with the concept that evacuating the population was a victory for Hamas and so we weren't in a rush to get to that point. Hamas has returned to building its military force. I don't know any military that doesn't start building its force after a war. We did that, too."


Turgeman further said regarding the 51-day conflict that "we assumed there would be rocket fire at central Israel and at strategic sites… Hamas wants to achieve an image of victory through its underground tunnels. It's very difficult to deal with these channels because there's no technology that can locate them in time. Fortunately, we are making significant progress.


"I don't know how the next operations will look. It will take more than a month for a significant achievement and we have to prepare ourselves for such a reality. For Hamas, the number of dead and amount of our attacks are not a measure of success or lack of success. What matters is that it didn't lose and that it stayed in power."


Turgeman praised local authorities in the south, saying that coordination during the conflict had been good.


Shai Hajaj, head of Merhavim Regional Council, said of Turgeman's statements that "it's clear that terror operatives are committing terrorism now, during a 'ceasefire', and they are preparing for future conflicts. And it's clear to everyone that the next conflict, whether in the north or south, will be difficult.


"As mayors, we must ensure in advance and do everything we can for our residents to be prepared. The civilian resilience during Operation Protective Edge was what permitted the fighting to continue. Wars today take place on the home front. The battlefield is the home front. And so we must ensure suitable protection for the home front."



פרסום ראשון: 05.12.15, 09:32
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