Lapid extends olive branch to Gaza residents, offers 'another way'
“The choice is yours. Your future depends on you,” the prime minister said
In his first public address since the ceasefire from the three-day war, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid addressed Palestinians directly on Monday saying, “there is another way.”
“I want to turn from here to the residents of Gaza and tell them: There is also another way. We know how to protect ourselves from anyone who threatens us, but we also know how to provide work, livelihood, and a life of dignity to anyone who wants to live in peace by our side,” the prime minister said.
Citing the Abraham Accords and the Negev Summit, Lapid cited “innovation and economy, of regional development and joint projects” and invited the Palestinians to take part.
“The choice is yours. Your future depends on you,” the prime minister said.
His comments came at the close of Operation Breaking Dawn in which Israel struck Palestinian Islamic Jihad targets after a credible threat of a terror attack from the Gaza Strip. The PIJ launched over 1,000 rockets toward Israel between Friday and Sunday night when a ceasefire agreement went into effect.
While Hamas runs the Strip, PIJ is another smaller terror group backed by Iran.
“In Operation Breaking Dawn, Israel reclaimed initiative. It restored Israel’s deterrence. All our goals were achieved,” Lapid said. “The entire senior military command of Islamic Jihad in Gaza was successfully targeted within three days. The strength and ingenuity of the Israel Defense Forces dealt a devastating blow to the enemy.”
He credited the “resilience and responsible conduct of the residents of communities near the Gaza Strip,” and the “active protection provided by our Iron Dome batteries,” for saving lives and preventing civilian casualties. Lapid said in his statement that the government maintains a policy of zero tolerance for terrorism.
Lapid said in his statement that the government maintains a policy of zero tolerance for terrorism.
“During the entire operation, a special effort was made to prevent harm to non-involved civilians,” he said. “The State of Israel will not apologize for protecting its residents with the use of force, but the deaths of innocent people, especially children, are heartbreaking.”
According to the IDF, of the 51 people killed in Gaza, 24 were members of the PIJ, 16 were Gazans killed by Islamic Jihad missiles that misfired – including 12 children – and 11 were non-combatants killed by Israeli attacks.
Several Israelis were wounded while running to bomb shelters, but none were killed.
Lapid thanked opposition leader and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his support during the conflict.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz emphasized that the IDF will continue to use preemptive strikes to enforce security. He said the operation succeeded in removing an imminent threat from Gaza “while sending a clear message to our enemies in each of the arenas: Israel is determined to maintain its sovereignty and protect its citizens.”
He stressed that Hamas is responsible for governing the Gaza Strip, but that if they don't act responsibly “we will operate forcefully and use all the means at our disposal – both military and civilian. We will operate in accordance with our need and considerations.”
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.