The IDF commander said Israel needs to focus on bigger threats such as Iran and Syria and prevent escalation with Hamas.

Israeli airstrikes during the last Gaza war in 2014.

Israeli airstrikes during the last Gaza war in 2014.

A top commander of Israel’s Southern Division referred on Thursday to the temporary ceasefire at Israel’s southern border, saying he believes Israel was as close to war as it has been since Operation Protective Edge (Israel’s military operation against Hamas in 2014 at the Gaza border). The senior commander, whose name was not released, indicated that Israel’s policy was to regain some sense of political stability, so it can deal with bigger threats such as Iran and Syria, saying: “We have been operating under a clear policy to quickly regain stability so we can complete building the obstacle and to allow Israel to focus on tackling bigger threats like Iran and Syria, and that is why we have not let [the situation] escalate to war.”

Meanwhile, the IDF released a photo of cement bags supplied by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), which were found in a terrorist tunnel destroyed by the Israeli military earlier this week.

The top Israeli commander referred to the relative quiet achieved at the border, saying that “there have been a number of considerations” and that “this was a very small round,” but that “we are ready for a larger and more significant round.” He added that Israel is prepared for tensions in the upcoming days despite the moderation demonstrated by Hamas and its ability to restrain other extreme factions.

Speaking about the condition of the residents of Gaza, the Southern Division commander said that Gaza “is still in one of the worst conditions it has ever seen” and that Hamas is in a similar state. According to him, the events at the security fence “have not been successful” and the attempts made by the terrorist organization have “failed.” He also added that the reality in the region was “difficult and changeable.”

In referring to achieving a long-term solution opposite Hamas, the commander said that “stable measures” are needed to ensure stability in the region, that the hostility is ongoing, but limited, and that “reality is changing before us: we are at a crossroads. We need to arrive at a decision because Gaza is in trouble and Hamas is in distress, and we can’t let reality play us.”