GOC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir warned Monday that "Hamas in Gaza is getting closer to Iran and Hezbollah and playing a dangerous game."
Speaking at the annual Sderot Conference for Society, Maj. Gen. Zamir stressed that "the threats on the borders haven't been lifted. We're committed to remain on guard and to be prepared for war. And if it breaks out, to win it."
Addressing the situation on the Israel-Gaza border since Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014, Zamir said the prosperity there "is the result of a strong society that showed immense strength, and a responsible leadership that navigates in complicated conditions."
"Alongside this prosperity, there are many challenges," he continued, "like terror organizations who entrench in urban areas under the cover of the civilian population, above and below ground, and have semi-military abilities."
"Israel invests much resources in building the underground and overground obstacles," Zamir went on to say. "We will create a separation above and below ground between the citizens of Israel and the two million Gazans and terror organizations."
"The mission continues, it is a process that takes time. At the end of the process, we'll have unprecedented defense and will have removed the threat of tunnels from our territory. I don't know if a war will break out in our time, but the obstacle will be built—with and without a campaign," he stressed.
IDF troops on the Gaza border work to prevent Hamas from growing stronger, he said. "The society here (in Sderot) is independent and vibrant compared to the society several hundreds of meters from here, where the Hamas leadership is harming civil rights. Hamas is investing resources in terrorism and not in the welfare of its residents," Zamir accused.
"The situation there is difficult, no one dispute this. This is a failure of the leadership there, which doesn't take care of its citizens. Hamas failed not just as a leadership, but cynically takes advantage of the situation of the residents—Hamas men steal electricity meant for hospitals and schools," he continued.
"Over 40 attempts to smuggle items for terrorism through the civilian border crosses were thwarted over the past year. This puts the (Gaza) residents in danger in order to hurt Israel," Zamir said.