IDF Spokesman:
'We're taking out Hamas' weapons stashes - from bedrooms in Gaza'

Sometimes there is collateral damage, but "any other country would just bomb the entire block."

Yoni Kempinski ,

Major Doron Spielman
Major Doron Spielman
Arutz Sheva

Operation Guardian of the Walls is now in its tenth day, and although a ceasefire is already being broached in various quarters, thus far, Israel has insisted that the operation will continue until it assesses that it has achieved its goals.

Arutz Sheva spoke with Major Doron Spielman of the IDF Spokesman’s Unit, to learn more about the latest developments in the conflict.

“If you look at what happened last night, we can see that we’ve moved our center of operations to the southern Gaza Strip – to the areas of Khan Younis and Rafiah, which is where most of the missiles hitting the south of Israel are coming from,” Spielman says. “We have a great number of objectives remaining and what we’re doing now is taking out Hamas’ weapons storage facilities.

“What people have to know,” he stresses, “is that these weapons aren’t being stored in barns or fields. They’re in people’s homes, in cupboards in bedrooms, even under beds. Last night, for instance, we took out a weapons stash that was kept in the home of Hamas’ former justice minister.”

What about the collateral damage that this sometimes involves?

“Right – sometimes there is collateral damage, as however good our intelligence is, it isn’t 100 percent. But we always notify the residents in advance, with SMS messages and phone calls. And I don’t think any other country in the world would do that – they’d simply take out the entire block,” he notes.

The IDF has hit Hamas targets repeatedly over the last few weeks – and yet, Hamas is still firing back. Has the IDF significantly impeded Hamas’ abilities, and if yes, why aren’t we seeing this?

“Hamas began this conflict with around 12,000 munitions, and they’ve fired around 4,000 so far,” Spielman explains. “So they still have 8,000 munitions left, and they’re spread out all over the Gaza Strip, so they’re still able to fire. However, we have inflicted major damage on their manufacturing capabilities – we’ve taken them back years. And we’ve also taken out their number two and number three on the intel side, as well as their senior commander in the northern part of the Strip.”

And it’s this side of things that the foreign media focuses on – what we’re doing in Gaza, and not what they’re doing to us, that provoked the conflict.

“That’s right, and I see this again and again, every single day. Of course it’s painful to see the destruction in Gaza, but they’re not placing the responsibility at Hamas’ feet. Take the example of the destruction of the building in Gaza that housed the Associated Press. It also housed Hamas’ research and development offices, and their special ops, but when we took the building down, the international press spent a week telling the world that we were going after the press.”

Did the AP really not know what the building was being used for?

“It’s hard to say conclusively that they knew. They were riding the same elevators… but there are also other factors at play. In the past, AP reporters no longer working in the region admitted that they had seen Hamas launching rockets from right near that building, but they never reported on it, as they feared retribution. It’s happened that journalists have been expelled from Gaza and not allowed to return for publishing reports that weren’t to Hamas’ liking.”

So you don’t blame them for not reporting?

“It seems that Hamas is sending them a clear message not to film. Otherwise, it’s hard to understand why we’re not seeing footage of rocket launches – and they’re happening all over, and Gaza is literally flooded with foreign journalists right now. Instead, all we see are pictures of dead children, dead civilians.”

Do you feel a sense of hostility when interacting with foreign media outlets?

“It depends. Sometimes they really are interested in getting the story, and it’s only afterward that pressure comes into play. At other times I can see that they have an agenda.”

So what can be done? Is there anything that can be done at all?

“One of the things we’ve been trying to do is take journalists to the crossings into Gaza, where they can see the trucks going in with humanitarian goods – where they can see that despite everything, the crossings are open. But so far, we’ve been unable to do that, because Hamas is actually bombing the Erez Crossing. It’s things like this that pull off the mask from the monster that is Hamas. They’re determined to keep their citizens in a state of misery, to foment unrest, and to prevent the world from knowing.”

So the media never really gets a sense of what the conflict is all about?

“The only time they really get it, is when they themselves are under fire, here in Israel, when there’s a Red Alert and their own lives are in danger. That’s when they suddenly understand the randomness of the rocket fire, and then they see homes that were hit, and they realize that the other side is literally bent on destroying Israel.”

And what about the Israeli citizens themselves, those under fire? How are we holding up, in general?

“The resilience of the Israeli public is one of our greatest assets. Hamas went into this thinking that we wouldn’t respond – they predicted that we would try to avoid a conflict. We took them majorly by surprise, and what I’m hearing, wherever I go, is that people want to continue the operation, that they’re holding strong. And the Jewish People is strong – after everything we’ve been through, we’re not going to give in.”