“The IDF has neutralized many terror tunnels that took years for Hamas to build,” Netanyahu said at the start of his address. “The IDF has had many achievements and successes since the beginning of the operation, hitting thousands of targets, including command center, arms factories, and terrorists.”

“This is a complicated mission, in an urban area, with contact with civilian population,” He said. “I am proud of our soldiers who are doing an extraordinary job,” he encouraged the military troops…

“We have nothing against the citizens of Gaza that have nothing to do with terrorism,” he said, adding that The army will continue to operate until the mission is completed – to restore the security and quiet to the citizens of Israel.

“The IDF will continue its mission according to Israel’s security needs, and only according to them,” he concluded.

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An Israeli Cabinet minister says there is “no point” in trying to reach a Gaza truce with Hamas and that Israel won’t send a delegation to planned cease-fire talks in Cairo.

The minister, Yuval Steinitz, spoke Saturday on Israel’s Channel 10 television station.

His comments suggests that Israel plans to end the current round of fighting with Hamas on its own terms, rather than getting entangled in indirect negotiations with Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

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“This is unprecedented in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict,” says CNN’s Ali Younes, an analyst who has covered the region for decades. “Most Arab states are actively supporting Israel against the Palestinians — and not even shy about it or doing it discreetly.”

It’s a “joint Arab-Israeli war consisting of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia against other Arabs — the Palestinians as represented by Hamas.”…

“The Israel-Hamas conflict has laid bare the new divides of the Middle East,” says Danielle Pletka, vice president of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. “It’s no longer the Muslims against the Jews. Now it’s the extremists — the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah, and their backers Iran, Qatar and Turkey — against Israel and the more moderate Muslims including Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.”

“It’s a proxy war for control or dominance in the Middle East,” says CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.

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The abduction of an Israeli soldier would provide Hamas with a tactical achievement that could strengthen its bargaining position. But it would have come at a cost: it placed Hamas on the defensive for violating a U.N.-backed cease-fire that offered Gazans their first greatest hope of relief in the 26-day long war. It also relieved political pressure on Israel, which was sharply criticized by the U.N. and the White House following reports that it shelled a U.N. shelter in Gaza on Wednesday, killing more than 16 civilians…

But if the Palestinians have him, his capture could take the two sides down one of two sharply different paths. Kidnapped soldiers have tremendous emotional resonance in Israel, who a few years ago swapped 1,000 Palestinians for a single missing soldier, Gilad Shalit. Hamas would expect Israel to make far-reaching concessions this time around as well. But with the Israeli public strongly supporting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s tough approach to the confrontation, the capture could also lead to Israel intensifying its military campaign in an effort to find and rescue the missing soldier. That could further escalate the already bloody conflict, which has killed more than 1,400 Palestinians, many of whom were civilians, and 60 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

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a) The compact between the Israeli army and Israeli parents is simple: You give us your sons, and we will do whatever we can to keep them alive. This includes conducting operations that get other soldiers killed. There will be near-unanimity in Israel that this soldier should be rescued, regardless of price to Israel, or certainly to the Palestinians in Gaza.

b) There is near-unanimity in Israel already that Hamas represents an unbearable threat. Add in the perfidy of a raid conducted after a ceasefire went into effect and near-unanimity becomes total unanimity…

c) For Israelis who are immune, unlike Amos Oz, to the criticism of outsiders, the world’s inability, or unwillingness, to understand the Hamas threat in the way that Oz (and most everyone else in Israel) understands it suggests that there is nothing Israel can do, short of national suicide, to stop the condemnation of their country. Which, of course, frees Israel, in their minds, to take whatever action it deems necessary to take. In other words, don’t be overly surprised by news later today of a massive Israeli army reserve call-up.

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Three. That is the number of times Israel has fought Hamas since 2007, when the terror group seized control of the Gaza Strip. There was Operation Cast Lead in 2008, Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, and now Operation Protective Edge in 2014. In all three cases the story has been the same: Israel is attacked; Israel responds; Israel is condemned; Israel ceases fire. Hamas is weakened. Hamas recovers. The rockets return. Rewind and repeat…

Collapse the tunnels or collapse Hamas. Lives will be lost either way. The difference is in the end state. Leave Hamas in charge, and you guarantee the war will resume, and more lives will be lost. Topple Hamas, and you remove the source of the conflict, the first cause of the death and destruction. Lives will be saved over time. Want an example? Casualties spiked during the Iraq surge in 2007. Then both American and civilian casualties plummeted. They remained low for years—until America withdrew…

Yes, there would be costs to regime change in the Gaza Strip. But the choice is not between a costly policy and a cost-free one. The choice is between the costs of removing a terrorist group from power and the costs of leaving it injured but able to fight another day. To prevent a fourth war, to bolster ties with the Sunni powers, to improve the chances of a two-state solution, to help the Palestinians, above all to secure Israel, the decision is clear. Destroy Hamas. End the war. Free Gaza.

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Those who claim there is only a political solution to the problem fail to understand that in the absence of a military solution it won’t be possible. Until something happens that will eliminate the Palestinian force that is determined to keep the conflict red-hot and is prepared to sacrifice their own people in order to advance that objective, there is no point to those who criticize Israel for not creating a Palestinian state. Though it has been blockaded by Israel, Egypt, and the international community since the 2007 coup that brought Hamas to power there, Gaza has functioned as an independent state for all intents and purposes since then. Its government’s sole objective has been to fight Israel, pouring its scarce resources into rockets, tunnels, and other military expenses while—despite Hamas’s reputation as a “social welfare organization”—doing virtually nothing to better the lives of its people. So long as it is allowed to stay in power that won’t change and, no matter how many cease-fires or negotiations John Kerry sponsors, peace will never happen.

Pressing on in Gaza will be costly and will be brutally criticized by the international press, the U.N., celebrities on Twitter, and every other conceivable venue. No one should think that Hamas’s duplicity and belligerence—amply demonstrated by today’s brutal cease-fire violation—will create much backing for an Israeli effort to finish the job in Gaza. But finish it they must or be faced with the necessity of starting over at some point in the near future. Despite publicized fears of something worse following this genocidal group, that is a myth. Anyone who really cares about the people of Gaza or peace should realize that and sit back and let Israel end the Hamas nightmare once and for all.

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Failure is the price of sovereignty. Statehood means making hard and often agonizing choices—whether to attack Hamas in Palestinian neighborhoods, for example, or to suffer rocket strikes on our own territory. It requires reconciling our desire to be enlightened with our longing to remain alive. Most onerously, sovereignty involves assuming responsibility. Zionism, in my definition, means Jewish responsibility. It means taking responsibility for our infrastructure, our defense, our society and the soul of our state. It is easy to claim responsibility for victories; setbacks are far harder to embrace.

But that is precisely the lure of Zionism. Growing up in America, I felt grateful to be born in a time when Jews could assume sovereign responsibilities. Statehood is messy, but I regarded that mess as a blessing denied to my forefathers for 2,000 years. I still feel privileged today, even as Israel grapples with circumstances that are at once perilous, painful and unjust. Fighting terrorists who shoot at us from behind their own children, our children in uniform continue to be killed and wounded while much of the world brands them as war criminals.

Zionism, nevertheless, will prevail. Deriving its energy from a people that refuses to disappear and its ethos from historically tested ideas, the Zionist project will thrive. We will be vilified, we will find ourselves increasingly alone, but we will defend the homes that Zionism inspired us to build.

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Via Mediaite.