9:28 P.M. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says in a press conference that IDF forces have “destroyed thousands of terror targets,” and that after the tunnels inside the Gaza Strip are destroyed, the IDF will continue in its mission to restore security to Israel’s citizens. “All the options are on the table to restore security,” he said.
The prime minister said Operation Protective Edge is complex, due to fighting in densely populated areas, and said Israel regrets the death of every Palestinian civilian. Netanyahu also said the operation has the support of the United States and of Europe. “The U.S. has been terrific and has given us tremendous support during the Gaza crisis,” Netanyahu said during the question time of the press conference.
Regarding reports that Netanyahu told U.S. ambassador to Israel that the Obama administration was “not to ever second-guess me again” in the wake of the last cease-fire’s collapse, Netanyahu said the media is full of distortions, and that the “right substance is the U.S. support we’re getting.”
Netanyahu’s press conference was held shortly after the family of 2nd. Lt. Hadar Goldin, believed captured by Hamas, demanded Israel will not leave their son behind. “Israel will continue to do everything it can to bring its missing soldiers home,” Netanyahu said. (Haaretz)
8:41 P.M. The family of 2nd. Lieut. Hadar Goldin, thought to have been captured by Hamas, held a press conference Saturday evening, and demanded the IDF not withdraw from Gaza without him.
Goldin’s father, Dr. Simcha Goldin, said: “I’m a battalion commander, I’ve been in the reserves until I was 50, and can’t imagine the IDF to forsake its fighter. My commander in Northern Command was Benny Gantz (the chief of staff), and I know he will not order the IDF to leave anywhere, when there’s a soldier inside.”
Goldin’s mother said: “I demand the state of Israel not to leave Gaza until it brings my boy back home. Hadar is Zur’s twin, Zur’s second half. They both serve in the same place. I demand the state of Israel not to forsake my child, and not to forsake any child who went out to defend Israel.” (Haaretz)
7:18 P.M. In the next 24 hours the IDF will announce that all known tunnels reaching from Gaza into Israel have been demolished. The Israeli army has been demolishing tunnels over the weekend, and several additional tunnels will be demolished in the coming hours.
By then, the IDF believe, the mission of destroying Hamas’ “attack tunnels” will be accomplished. The defense establishment knew of 31 such tunnels before the operation, and additional tunnels were uncovered during the ground offensive.
Following the destruction of the tunnels, the IDF intends to withdraw the troops from the Strip’s built-up areas, and re-deploy them several hundred meters beyond the border fence, inside Gaza’s territory. The re-deployment is meant to secure Israel’s Gaza vicinity communities in case of breaches, and in readiness of possible future missions. Some troops will withdraw from Gaza into Israel, and will be redeployed in staging areas several kilometers outside the Strip. (Gili Cohen)