Israel’s war to “uproot” Palestinian Islamist group Hamas will deter militants from carrying out attacks across the world, the country’s Intelligence Minister Gila Gamliel told AFP in an exclusive interview.
“We have to uproot it so it doesn’t happen, there won’t be any option, even a thought, to others in the world that they could use what happened (in Israel) as a model” for future attacks, Gamliel said.
Israel has been pounding Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip relentlessly after the militants’ unprecedented onslaught on its soil.
Hamas gunmen swept into small towns and kibbutzim in Israel on Saturday morning and indiscriminately killed residents who hid in their homes or died defending their communities.
The army said a “staggering 1,200” bodies had been discovered, mostly of unarmed civilians, while Gaza officials reported more than 1,000 people killed in Israel’s withering campaign of air and artillery strikes on the crowded Palestinian enclave, as Israeli forces amassed on its border.
At least 169 Israeli soldiers have been also killed in fighting the militants, according to the army.
Defence Minister Yoav Gallant has vowed to “eliminate” anyone affiliated with Hamas, telling forces he had removed any “restrictions” from Israel’s military campaign.
Gamliel backed the stance, saying the atrocities committed by Hamas militants on Israeli civilians they murdered and the support they received from the Palestinians in Gaza revoked their “right to exist as rulers, as a military entity — to exist at all.”
“When you see those horrors,” she said, “you understand you cannot let these people rule the public in Gaza.”
Gamliel said it was not the right time to discuss the intelligence failure that enabled the militant organisation ruling Gaza to breach Israel’s southern border and launch a comprehensive attack.
She also refused to discuss the efforts to locate or free the dozens of people abducted by Hamas who were being held as captives in Gaza.
For now, the focus is on eradicating the Islamist militants.
“Our decisive treatment will cause other organisations to not carry out the same tragic attacks,” Gamliel said.
“That should be the goal — to make them vanish from the world,” she said.